Your ultimate hail safety guide

hail on a car's windshield

Of the many types of weather that threaten the safety of your home and car, a hailstorm may be the most significant. Hail, tiny balls of ice produced in heavy thunderstorms and ranging in size from that of a pea to a golf ball, can cause considerable damage to property once it falls from the sky. Insurance losses related to hail number billions of dollars each year, and major hailstorms in the U.S. total thousands. According to the NOAA Severe Storms database, there were over 4,600 hailstorms in the U.S. in 2020.

To your home, hail can damage anything from siding, roof, gutters, and windows to fencing and lawn furniture. With your car, hail damage can entail cracked windshields, sizable dents and small dings to the body’s exterior. If you’re not careful, hail can even pose the threat of injury to you and your family, including pets. But property damages, whether to your home or car, can be minimized or avoided. There are many steps you can take to ensure hail safety.

How to prepare your home

Be proactive and plan ahead

The first step you should take to prepare your home for hailstorms is to plan ahead. This includes having a written plan of action, your insurance documents, and knowing what is predicted.

  • Create a disaster preparedness plan for hail safety that includes shelter and evacuation routes, communications plans, family dietary needs and emergency kits, along with insurance items.
  • Check your insurance and document items. Most homeowner’s policies cover hail damage, however it’s important to check your policy beforehand and take an inventory of your property along with pictures. You‘ll need to check if you have comprehensive insurance for your car.
  • Anticipate the weather and seasons. Hailstorms are more likely to appear in the spring and summer months, so it’s important to be ready for this occurrence and keep an eye on the weather forecast for severe thunderstorms with hail forecasts.

Prepare your roof, gutters and windows

Roof damage is common in hailstorms. Shingles can be cracked or loosened, leaving your roof exposed. In addition, melting hail risks seeping through your roof if gutters and downspouts aren’t cleared thoroughly. Gutters are also subject to cracks and holes from falling hail. The best way to protect your roof and gutters is to have a roofing system and materials that are resistant to the impact of hail, and to invest in guards and filters for your gutters.

Home windows are also vulnerable to the icy pellets of hail. To protect them from damage, it’s important that they be secured. An investment in storm shutters for hail safety is ideal, however if that’s not an option for you, be sure to use coverings, such as drapes, blinds, and even blankets if necessary. Not only are you securing your window from property damage, but you or your family could be injured from a broken window as well. Outdoor items, such as lawn furniture and plants, should be brought inside.

How to prepare your car

Shelter for your car and coverings

To ensure hail safety for your car, it must be in a place of shelter. Whether in a home garage or other protective structure, it’s important that your vehicle have cover. If a physical structure is not possible, you can purchase car covers for your vehicle ahead of time. There are many types to choose from, including hail covers, inflatable covers, and portable covers. Covering and securing your vehicle with blankets is another option to protect it from the potential onslaught of hail during a storm.

What to consider during the storm

Safe places, power & communication, and family needs

At home, there are many things you’ll need to consider for hail safety once a storm has been forecasted. First, you’ll need to determine what parts of your house will be considered safe areas. In the middle of a storm, it’s important to stay put and away from windows until the storm subsides, so these should be established beforehand. Safe places can include the basement, cellar, or the first floor of your home. You should not be directly below the roof.

Next, determine how you’ll stay informed of the news of the storm and, if need be, communicate with family or outside resources. Plan to have a radio, mobile phone, or other communication device to receive news. There’s always a possibility of electrical outages during severe thunderstorms. Plan to have a generator or at least plenty of flashlights and batteries in the event your power goes out.

Lastly, decide what medicine, water, and food supplies you’ll have on hand for yourself, your family, and your pets. These should be items that will keep everyone safe and well during a severe thunderstorm with hail until everything is in the clear.

On the road

If you find yourself driving in your car during a hailstorm, you’ll want to find cover until the storm is over. Try not to exit your vehicle. You’ll be driving in rainy and slippery conditions, so you should drive slowly, brake lightly, and avoid large puddles. Regular car maintenance will best prepare you for driving in the rain and in storm conditions. You should find cover under an overpass, parking garage, or gas station quickly. Covering yourself with jackets or other clothing is a good way to protect yourself from the threat of a broken or cracked window as a result of hail.

After the storm and comprehensive coverage

How to file damage claims for home and auto

After a storm has subsided, carefully survey your home or car for any possible damage caused by the hail. Trees and plants that have been left bare of their leaves and dents to screens, vents, and patios may be indicators of roof damage. Check for any broken or shattered glass around your home and in your car. If there is damage to your property, you’ll need to contact your insurance company immediately to file a claim – many insurance carriers require that you notify them within a certain timeframe. You’ll also need to document any damage to your home or vehicle with pictures or video. An inventory of your home and belongings beforehand will make this process a lot smoother. If there are any temporary repairs or nights at a hotel because of hail damage, you should retain receipts as well as take pictures for your claim.

In the event your vehicle suffers hail damage, comprehensive insurance from your auto policy will cover this damage (if you have it).

What comprehensive insurance covers

For many people, comprehensive car insurance is vague and at first may seem unnecessary. However, this type of coverage protects your vehicle from the potential damage of hail. It also protects against other unforeseen circumstances such as theft, flood, fire, animals, and other fallen objects like trees. Glass claims also fall under comprehensive coverage. It’s a protection you need to keep your car covered against the elements.

If you don’t have comprehensive insurance in your plan, consider adding it to protect your car during natural disasters. If you aren’t an Elephant customer yet, find out how much you can save and get a quote today.

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