Premium Content for Insurance Claims Professionals

Written for Adjusters, Vice Presidents, Directors and Managers of Insurance Claims

Everything Claims Professionals Should Know About Hail Damage

Hail damage is a costly expense for the insurance industry. And that’s why it’s so important for claims professionals to know what they’re dealing with. By understanding how hail impacts a home or business, we can better determine how it impacts a claim. Pun intended!

Cosmetic vs Functional Damage

Roof-covering materials that have sustained hail damage are either classified as functional or cosmetic. This is the basis for which a claim will be approved or denied. It’s often the primary point of contention between insurers, insured, inspectors, and contractors.

Not all damage will be as obvious, especially in corners or hidden by shade. In addition to a visual check, it is often best for inspectors to run their hand over the materials to feel for less obvious damage.

Functional Damage impacts the roof’s ability to shed water. It may even reduce the expected service life of the roof. It varies based on the type of roof-covering material used as asphalt, tile, wood, copper, etc. are each impacted differently by the impact of hailstones.

Cosmetic Damage is visible damage that does NOT impact the roof’s ability to shed water or reduce the service life of the roof. Even if functionality is impacted to a minor degree, it can still be ruled as cosmetic. This can be seen as discoloration, localized granule loss on asphalt shingles, or even dents in shingles, gutters, and siding.

However, if a financial loss is incurred by the homeowner, cosmetic damage may be covered. Specifically, if the visible signs of damage decrease the value of the home, that will result in financial loss to the homeowner.

Non-Roof Damage

The roof won’t be the only part of the property to sustain damage in a hail storm. Damage will be prevalent on the rest of the house or building and around the property.

Collateral Damage - everything other than the roof is considered collateral damage. This can include siding, windows, fences, AC units, lawn furniture and everything else you would find at ground level.

Elevation Damage - Although it is still considered collateral damage, elevation damage occurs to the exterior walls of the home. This can include siding, doors, windows, trim, covers, and any other building component damaged by hail.

While all materials will be impacted differently, key indicators include cracks, dents, punctures, broken glass, spatter marks, and dislodged materials.

Gutters & Downspouts - hail that strikes the bottom of the gutter will create downward indentations. Damage sustained by the side of the gutter can either be inward or outward based on the direction of the hail fall. Dents are typically smaller than the diameter of the hail that hit them.

Vinyl Gutters & Leaf Guards - punctures and cracks are much more likely to occur due to the nature of the material.

Windows & Doors - screens will streak or tear from even smaller pieces of hail. Fiberglass and vinyl frames will crack or puncture. Steel frames and aluminum trim are susceptible to indentation and spatter. Horizontal surfaces are more prone to damage. With enough force, panes of glass can be broken.

Siding - aluminum siding is most susceptible to hail damage which can include indentations and spatter marks. Vinyl siding is easily cracked and broken. Wood siding can be cracked, dented, and broken. Paint can be chipped. Wood panels hold up better than lapped wood siding against hail damage.

False Positives

Not all damage found during inspection will be a result of hail. Existing damage or even fraud can be present so it’s important to be able to tell the difference.

Intentional Damage can come into play as well. Hammer marks often mimic hail damage. However, hail patterns are often random in strike patterns but have a discernible direction and angle to their impact. Fraud can be identified by concentrated areas of damage, often away from the roof edge in lines, arcs, or grouped together.

Age of Damage is another consideration during inspection. The impact of hail stones expose new materials and remove oxidation or algae. The color of the impact will serve as an indicator of the age of damage. Over time, damaged materials re-oxidize, get covered in particulates, or be covered by new growth.

Scratches & Creases are not produced by hailstone impacts. These are clear indicators of existing damage and cannot be caused by hail.

Making an Impact

By better understanding the nature of hail and the materials and components it impacts, the more accurate we can handle these types of claims. Should you need the help of a professional adjuster, our claims professionals are here to service your claims 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nationwide.


Email us at or give us a call at (888) 701-1153.



Written by Greg Church

President, US Claim Solutions

Leave a Comment