Are You Prepared for a Hailstorm?

A recent hailstorm that struck the Dallas area has early estimates of damage in the neighborhood of $2 billion. According to the Insurance Journal, the storm could potentially be viewed as one of the most costly in history. But while the Insurance Journal article focused on insured damages, you have to wonder what the extent of damage is for those who are not properly insured for such losses. In light of the recent storm, this is a good time to review your policies and consider if you have the right home insurance coverage to protect you against hail damage.

Most home insurance policies specifically cover damage that results from windstorms or hail. However, if you are in an area that is particularly prone to windstorms and hail, you may have to purchase separate coverage. For example, in Texas, homeowners in 14 coastal counties purchase their wind and hail insurance from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA)). The TWIA is a pool of insurance companies that work cooperatively to provide coverage for residents in these high-risk areas when, otherwise, insurance companies would not provide coverage individually.

Policies purchased through the TWIA are not full home insurance policies. Instead, they are specific to the perils of wind and hail and the damages caused by these perils. You will still need to purchase a regular home insurance policy for all the other types of losses that may cause damage to your home.

Once you have your wind and hail insurance (either through a separate policy or built into your regular home insurance policy), review it to understand what it covers and what types of losses are excluded. Typically, the wind and hail policy (or peril on a home insurance policy) will exclude losses due to rain or flooding, as these are separate perils. It will, however, cover the rain damage if wind or hail damaged your dwelling and created an opening that allows in the rain. Flooding, however, will still not be covered, as it is more appropriately covered on a specific flood policy purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program.

The need to have multiple policies in certain high-risk areas can be confusing, so you should carefully read your policies to make sure you do not have a gap in coverage. Because Texas homeowners are regularly confronted with this need to have several policies, the Texas Department of Insurance has created a good chart to help homeowners understand the different policies and what each policy covers.

Keep in mind that after a large hailstorm, there will be many affected homeowners wishing to make claims with insurance companies, so you’ll probably face a delay in response as your insurance company does its best to keep up with new claims being reported. You need to be patient, but persistent, in dealing with your insurance company. You should also be alert to scams that sometimes abound after a natural disaster. If you are solicited by contractors offering to repair your home’s damage, be sure to check their license and references before hiring anyone. Being prepared with your insurance and knowing how to handle the aftermath of a serious storm can help reduce your level of anxiety.

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