Dealing with day-to-day responsibilities isn’t the only thing business owners need to worry about when owning and/or operating commercial property. This is particularly true when it comes to severe weather. Having damage to a commercial property after a bad storm or natural disaster can be incredibly frustrating to deal with and impact a business’ bottom line. One of the most common types of weather-related damage that can occur to a commercial property is roof damage from hail. Knowing how to identify hail damage on your roof can help business owners quickly take the steps they need to mitigate further damage and file a timely insurance claim.
Texas Hail Damage
Texas is no stranger to severe weather. Each year the Lone Star State experiences various instances of severe weather, ranging from hurricanes and tornadoes to even hard winter freezes. One of the most common types of dangerous weather Texas sees nearly every year is hail.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), in 2017, over 1.3 million properties in Texas were affected by hail. In 2019, an estimated 5,382 significant hailstorms rained hail down across the country. Out of all the impacted states, Texas experienced the most hailstorms and resulting damage with 872 significant hail events. Damage from a hailstorm can be incredibly serious, particularly for businesses as it often results in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to property, equipment, crops, and much more.
While bouts of hail can happen at any time, hailstorm formation requires severe thunderstorms, which are often fueled by warmth and humidity. Because of this, hail season generally begins in the spring and summer months and tapers off around the fall. The area known as Hail Alley covers a large portion of North and West Texas and stretches across the plains – greatly impacting major cities like Dallas.
Identifying Hail Damage
When it comes to determining if a commercial property’s roof has suffered hail damage, it’s important to do it safely. An experienced roofer can evaluate the damage and provide a report based on their findings, which property owners can use when filing an insurance claim for the damage.
While hail can be destructive in most circumstances, certain factors can affect both the type and degree of damage to a property’s roof, including:
- Wind direction: Wind direction and wind speed during a hailstorm can vary. Changes in these conditions can have an impact on both the location and severity of hail impacts.
- Size and density: The size of hailstones can affect the severity of property damage. While a hailstone can be as small as a pea, it can also be as large as a softball (or larger).
- Roofing materials and age: Different materials used in constructing and/or repairing a roof can absorb the impact of a hailstone differently. For instance, hail can cause dings in aluminum materials, gutters, or asphalt, whereas it can crack vinyl or wood. Additionally, the age and condition of a roof could affect the degree of damage. If a roof suffered prior storm damage, it could be weak enough for a hailstone to puncture.
- Property barriers: The positioning of neighboring buildings and natural barriers, like tree cover, landscaping, or adjacent properties, can reduce the ability of hail to damage a business.
When determining if a commercial property’s roof has suffered hail damage, one of the most obvious signs is a leaky roof. There could be water dripping from AC units into the building, water markings on the ceiling, or even mold in some cases. When looking at the exterior to determine the extent of hail damage, be sure to check the following:
- Gutters: When a property has dented or damaged gutters, it is often an indicator that hail damage is present on the roof. This can be apparent if there are obvious dents and scratches on the gutter, gutter screens, and downspouts.
- HVAC systems: For many commercial properties, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are located on the roof. If it seems the HVAC system is not working properly like there is irregular heating and/or cooling of the building, it could be due to hail damage. This is because hail can impact the system’s thin metal slats that direct airflow. If these are damaged, airflow can be constricted.
- Asphalt and tar roofs: Asphalt buildup and tar and gravel roofs make it difficult to determine if hail damage is present. A sample will need to be taken after the gravel has been swept off and sent to a specialist to determine damage.
- Modified bitumen roofs: It is relatively easy to notice hail damage on modified bitumen roofs, as the product is very similar to modified asphalt shingles on a home. Dark circular or star-shaped patterns in the areas where the hail has impacted the roof membrane indicate hail damage on your roof.
- EPDM rubber roofs: If an EPDM rubber roof has suffered hail damage, it will most likely have dimpled or damaged the insulation board under the roof membrane, which can cause water to pond on the roof. If this occurs, the roof will need to be removed entirely and replaced with new insulation and a new membrane.
- TPO and PVC roofs: Depending on the size of the hail and the age of the roof, a TPO or PVC roof can make it difficult to detect hail damage. In many cases, the damage won’t be present on the roof’s surface but will be present on the bottom of the roof membrane, which shatters the reinforcement in the middle of it. This allows water to enter the membrane, making it extremely difficult to find roof leaks as they can’t be seen on the surface.
Commercial Property Damage Coverage Attorneys
At Raizner Law, our insurance coverage attorneys are well versed in the claims process. We have represented thousands of clients against major insurers in commercial property damage disputes. If your business property suffered hail damage and you need assistance with a claim that has been wrongfully delayed, underpaid, or denied, we can help. Contact us today to discuss your claim.