Recognizing Roof Damage

It happens four to six months after every major storm – claims start rolling in with unusual descriptions of loss:

“Neighbor has hail damage.”

“A roofer came to the door and said there was serious damage in the neighborhood.”

“My son-in-law saw a ‘Storm Damage’ sign around the corner where a new roof was being installed.”

The insured has no idea if they have damage too.  And if our inspection shows no damage, they begin to worry about their home and to wonder how they escaped damage when it is obvious there was some damage in the area.  Then they start to wonder about their insurance company and become concerned that the adjuster might have been wrong.

How can their neighbor’s home be damaged when theirs is not?

Many storms with imbedded pockets of small hail will not damage a roof that is in otherwise good condition. The only evidence of the hail may be small indentations on the soft metal vents on the roof. The fact that months have passed with no obvious damage from the storm should be reassuring.   If there are no leaks or no obvious change in the roof’s appearance, there is a good chance the roof was not damaged.

It is also possible that one home will sustain damage while a neighbor with a slightly newer (or different type of) roof will have no damage at all. Years ago, a hail storm went through the Atlanta area while I was visiting a friend about a mile from my own home.  I saw hail mostly the size of peas and marbles. My car, parked outside, was undamaged. Two weeks later, we had a heavy rain and I found a pile of debris where my downspouts discharged onto the driveway.  Closer inspection revealed the debris to be small bits of shingle. An inspection of the roof a few weeks later confirmed significant hail damage. Over the next months, I didn’t notice any other houses being re-roofed, but I also knew that the 18-year-old shingles on my home were probably the oldest in the immediate area.

Other than age and quality of the roof surface, other factors may keep a home from sustaining damage.  The shingles on a poorly ventilated roof will age more quickly and tend to be more brittle than those on a roof that is well ventilated.  Those brittle shingles may be damaged by even small hail. The direction of winds within the storm can also mean a home facing south might be damaged when a neighbor’s home facing west is not.  Trees and other structures close to a house might provide some protection while a house that sits on a lake with nothing to slow or deflect the coming storm will have more severe damage.

Keep this in mind:  a roofer going door-to-door is looking for business.  If he says he can tell you need a new roof due to hail and has not actually been up on the roof, beware. If you have reason to believe you might have damage, contact a reputable roofer who is based in your area for inspection. If that reputable roofer and your adjuster disagree, they can meet at your home and discuss what they are seeing.

Have you had roof damage?  How did you determine your roof was damaged?

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