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Hail damage - when the sky is falling

June is just around the corner – the start of hail season, which typically runs until September in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Most people underestimate the damage that hail can inflict. Hail may look like small, harmless pebbles falling from the sky. But it can also be the size of softballs striking your home and vehicle with tremendous force. A hailstorm usually doesn’t last very long, but its effects certainly do.

A severe hailstorm has the potential to smash windshields, break headlights, and leave behind small craters in your vehicle’s roof and hood. It can crack or break the windows and siding of your home if it falls at an angle. A serious hailstorm will almost certainly inflict damage on the roof of your home.

Do you have sufficient hail coverage?

There has been a noticeable increase in frequency and severity of extreme weather events particularly in Alberta and the Prairie Provinces. In August of 2014, a severe hail storm in Alberta fell on thousands of vehicles and properties costing insurers $450 million in damages.

Most home insurance policies include weather-related damage. However, check with your broker to ensure that your policy includes all perils. A peril is an event that is unexpected and accidental. Hail is considered an insured peril and coverage includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage to your home and contents from water entering through openings caused by wind or hail. It also applies to the exterior of the building excluding antennas and satellite dishes.

If you have a newer vehicle or can’t afford the cost of repairs for hail damage, you want to make sure that you are covered. Comprehensive or all perils auto insurance includes coverage for certain perils such as flooding, fire and hail. However, this coverage is not mandatory. If you haven’t opted for it, you are not covered for hail damage.

Also if you have made a claim for hail damage to your vehicle in the past, make sure that your auto insurance policy still includes hail damage. Some policies exclude it after one claim.

Making a claim

If your home or vehicle has sustained hail damage, contact your insurance broker first, and be as detailed as possible.

Make a list of all damaged or destroyed items, and take photos. If possible, gather receipts, proofs of purchase and warranties. Keep any receipts related to the clean-up and living expenses if you were unable to stay in your home due to extensive damage.

Even if it doesn’t appear that a hailstorm has caused any damage to your home, it is a good idea to have an adjuster inspect it anyway. Your roof may have sustained damage without you realizing it, which could eventually lead to other serious issues. The adjuster is trained to spot hail damage and will carefully examine your home’s siding, windows, gutters, shutters and roof.

It can be difficult to avoid damage caused by a hailstorm to your home or to your vehicle (unless you keep your car in your garage.) Your best defence is the right insurance policy. Talk to your Western Financial Group broker today so you’re ready for the upcoming hailstorm season.