Hail Damage Specialist
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Hail Damage, how it affects your roof

I’d like to explain how hail damages a roof so that you can make the right decision.  When the hail impacts the roof it can do one of two things, first the hail can impress the granules into the asphalt and fiberglass matt.  Also the hail impact may not leave a impressed dimple, but might loosen or scrape away granules.  The granules are there to protect the asphalt. When the asphalt is exposed to the UV light, it can degrade over time. Therefore hail damage does not cause immediate damage, but will reduce the life of the roof overall.  I equate this to a smoker, the cigarette smoked today doesn’t kill you today but will take some time off your life at the end.

Metals, such as gutters, vents and flashings, are exceptionally prone to hail damage. When the hail impacts the metal it can leave a dent. More than anything this is cosmetic, but can also weaken and loosen the metals. In the case of metal roof vents, I have seen roof vents almost completely flattened by hail which reduces their air flow.

How to inspect for hail damage..

First check your gutters, downspouts, and siding. This can be safely and easily accomplished from the ground. If you notice impact “dings” this is a good sign you have hail damage. On the gutters and aluminum siding, hail marks are primarily cosmetic. Hail may create holes damaging vinyl siding beyond the cosmetic, and require replacement. Also on your roof the impact damage can be more serious and will need to be repaired at some point.

Warning, if you do not feel comfortable climbing on top of your roof please contact us for an inspection. Please take the utmost care when climbing on a ladder or atop a roof as there is serious risk of injury or death. Once atop your roof, start by inspecting the soft metals like vents and flashings. These areas will be the most noticeable. Then proceed to inspect the field of the roof looking for dimples, which will look like blackish depressions. Check the edge of the shingles, as the hail can sometimes cause minor tears at shingle edges. Also check in the gutter and at the base of the downspouts for excessive  granule loss.

For more information on how to inspect your roof for other damage in addition to the hail damage, please read: How to Inspect & Maintain your shingle roof.

What to do if you have, or think you have, hail damage on your roof..

If given the opportunity, take photographs of the hail on the ground or on the roof. Pick up a handful of the larger hail balls and photograph those as well. Collect several pieces of hail in a plastic bag and place in your freezer until after the adjuster has inspected the roof. Also make a note of the date of the hail storm and the direction (North, South, East, West) the hail was coming from.

Call your insurance company to inspect. A contractor need not be present. There are some rules of thumb regarding roof replacement vs repair after a hail event, and generally this is recognized as 10 impact marks per 10 square feet.  However every insurance company has their own rules and guidelines.

Don’t always accept the insurance company’s first settlement. Often times we can review the insurance company’s estimation and find various items that may have been left out. For example dumpsters and/or permits are often excluded and should be added. Adjusters are also human and can sometimes make mistakes on measurements, therefore all of this should be checked for accuracy by a competent roofing contractor after the insurance company has inspected.

Please be aware that the amount that your insurance company compensates you depends solely on your insurance policy. Insurance policy’s are different and vary widely. For example, your policy might cover “like replacement” only, meaning the insurance company will only pay to replace the roof with similar materials and would not include any required code upgrades. Your policy might also include those code upgrades, therefore you might be compensated for ice shield and possibly ventilation improvements. But do not forget depreciation, the insurance company may not compensate you the total amount of the repair value. This can all be determined by discussing with your insurance company, or we can review your adjustment estimate.

Contact us or another local reputable local roofing contractor for an inspection and estimation to repair or replace the roof if you think you have hail damage. Keep in mind that the insurance company is only responsible to pay for like replacement or minimum code. Be prepared to pay for upgrades, since Reliable American doesn’t install any minimum code roofs. We consistently exceed minimum code. Feel free to learn more about Shingle Roof codes.


Beware of storm chasers. There is no doubt, if the storm is severe enough, the “Storm Chasers” will begin to knock on your door, send post cards or generally otherwise harass you falsely promising a “free roof“. In 2001 there were major hail storms in the North Shore suburbs (Lake Forest, Highland Park, Deerfield), again in 2010 another hail storm hit the North West suburbs (Park Ridge, Desplaines, Niles, Morton Grove). In both instance these storms brought out of town contractors flocking to the area taking advantage of unsuspecting property owners.

Due to the havoc of the storm chasers of 2001; stricter building codes, stricter IL roofing licensing requirements, and more consumer protection laws were passed. Furthermore as a local Chicago area roofing company, we have made repairs to many numerous improperly installed roofing systems. Where were the storm chasers to fix their mistakes? Out of town, or out of business.

Don’t sign anything. Many storm chasers will “con” trusting property owners into agreeing to pre-hire them to do the repairs, and not even know it. Often the storm chaser will tell you that the agreement gives them permission to inspect your roof, or that the agreement gives them permission to negotiate with the insurance company. In most cases you need not sign any agreements to give your insurance company permission to negotiate on your behalf. These agreements are actually “contingency agreements” or “direct payment agreements”, and while a contingency agreement is not always a bad thing, a reputable roofing contractor will have no problem inspecting your roof without you signing over your power of attorney. If you sign a direct payment agreement, you will never see a penny of your money and the storm chaser will pocket it all.

If you did sign a contingency agreement or agreement of any kind, remember you have 3 days in the state of IL to cancel the agreement and I suggest you do so in writing immediately!

Check if the contractor is licensed in the State of Pa.

For more information about your rights as a consumer, please read: PA consumer rights for home repair Purchases.

Read more about about how storm chasers have made the news for their unscrupulous business acts: Storm chasers masquerade as local home repair companies

What can be done to protect your roof from hail…

Impact Resistant Shingles are available which greatly reduce the likelihood of hail damaging your roof. In addition these shingles are sometimes eligible for reduced insurance premiums. Contact your insurance company to see if you qualify for these reduced premiums, then contact Reliable American to see if it makes financial sense to upgrade to impact resistance shingles.

A supplement to the above information, be informed about your roof…

Wind and Hail Restoration, the Holencik Exteriors way…

There is no doubt that there are numerous “insurance restoration specialists” offering roofing and gutter services in the Lehigh Valley area, but what makes Holencik Exteriors different? What does an insurance restoration specialist really mean, and what services do they provide?

Chances are if you are reading this, you may have had some storm damage on your roof. Also, chances are if you are reading this you may be a little bit confused about what to do or whom to hire. I am writing this article to not only promote Holencik Exteriors services, but also to help educate the general public on what goes on behind the scenes in the Insurance Restoration side of contracting, and what makes Holencik Roofing stand out from the crowd.

What “Storm Chasers” do after a hail storm.

First off, let me explain the “normal” process by which the majority of insurance specialists operate. Perhaps someone rings your door bell or you get a letter in the mail. You are somehow informed that you might have Hail damage and that the insurance company will give you a free roof. They may even be offering you $500 to leave a sign in your yard. You are asked to sign a contingency agreement so that the restoration company negotiate with the insurance company. They may even file the insurance claim on your behalf. The insurance company may even pay them directly so you don’t have to worry about it.

Sounds great huh? Well when you sign that contingency agreement you are signing away your power of attorney. You are giving up many of your rights to choose what you want to do on your own property and who you want to do it. If after you get approved by the insurance company for a claim, you are forced by this agreement to hiring this contractor or pay hefty penalties, sometimes up to 33% of the insurance claim. Reliable American does not use these “contingency” agreements with our customers, except under extreme situations.

Let me also bust the fallacy of the “Free roof” myth. Your mother may have told you that there is no such thing as a free lunch and that could not be more the case here. There is no such thing as a free roof. Why? Simple, the insurance company is responsible to pay for like replacement and/or code upgrades. This is determined by how your policy is written. First off, ask your self if you want a “minimum” code roof? Simply put a Holencik Exteriors roofing system exceeds minimum code time and time again.

We do what is right for the building, not simply what the insurance company is willing to pay for. Our reputation is on the line. We were here before the storm and will be here after the storm and stand behind out work. We have to do what is right! There may be some things wrong that are not storm related. You should expect to pay some money out of your pocket to make these repairs to insure a properly installed roofing system. These storm chasers do not usually worry about these issues.

What about the $500 signage bonus? Well this is a clever, and cut-throat, tactic used by unscrupulous contractors to get around the law against paying your deductible, which by the way may be illegal. I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advise. So you most definitely should seek your own legal advise before you attempt to cheat the insurance company.

Just what is a contingency agreement and how are you signing away your power of attorney? Well read the fine print before you sign. This is true of anything you sign, even our contracts, don’t trust even us until we earn your trust. If you read the fine print in many of these agreements you are hiring that company to do the work for you at that moment assuming insurance company approval. Sounds fine and dandy if it’s a reputable company. There really isn’t anything wrong with that, after all the company has to protect themselves and their investment in time. However there are far too often blank lines especially when it comes to scope of work. You are essentially often writing a blank check allowing the company to literally do what ever they want to do to your home, with insurance company approval. Do you want to give that kind of power to someone you just met?!

Should someone other than you really be filing the insurance claim on your house? Well the short answer is no. You may think that the restoration company is doing you a favor. They may have promised that they are looking out for your behalf, and maybe they are. However you should really not file a claim unless you are sure you have damage. Did you know when you file a claim, approved or denied, you are entered into a national database and with numerous complaints, this will affect your coverage? So if someone comes to your door saying they’ll take care of it, but three years prior someone else made the same offer but in both cases neither actually looked for damage, and in both cases you were declined… Well there is a point at which you will be asked to find another insurance company for your property. Only file a claim if you know you have damage. If you are unsure ask a reputable 3rd party to inspect for you before you file that claim!

Now what’s this about the insurance company paying the contractor directly? Now, what power do you have to ensure that the work was done properly and complete. Will they return to finish even after being paid. You can find hundreds of articles written by local and national media about “Storm Chasers” who take insurance pay outs and disappear. While it is not unusual to be asked for a down payment, our downpayment is minimual, you really should control your purse strings and be the one writing the check.

So what makes Holencik Exteriors different? What is our process, our way of handling storm damage, and helping out our customers? We are more than happy to help, we just do it in a different way that most others, that’s all. Below is the Holencik Exteriors standard operating procedures for managing an insurance claim for your roof or gutters.

  • If you “think” you have Hail damage we can perform a paid inspection of your property. If you “know” you have Hail damage, meaning the insurance company has already approved you, then we will be happy to meet with you at no cost and explain your options for repair. Learn more about roof inspections.
  • Do not show us or anyone your insurance estimate until after we have discussed your options and our recommend plan of attack. Remember we want to do what is right, not just what the insurance company is willing to offer.
  • We will provide you with a detailed proposal with scope of work explaining to you upfront what should be done. This is of paramount importance.
  • After you have chosen to hire Holencik Exteriors to replace your roof, … We will also be willing to discuss these with the insurance company. This is what we call value added services, which means we go above and beyond to ensure the insurance company is properly compensating you for what is right.

As always let the buyer beware.  I recommend always checking to ensure the contractor you are hiring is legitimate and trust worthy. In the aforementioned article I mention checking with the BBB, but please don’t pay any attention to the rating system. If you are checking the BBB strictly look at their complaint record. One or two would not be uncommon in a 3 year period of time, again we are all human, but 4, 5, 10 watch out!

Also check with the Pa Attorny General to ensure that the contractor is a State of PA licensed roofing contractor. Our license number is 00000. While I recommend this to every customer, after a Hail event this becomes even more important because out of state contractors flock the area to cash in quick, and then skip town when the work is done. They are breaking the law!

Yep, we do things differently, but I really think our customers like the way we do business. We don’t simply take the ez road for some quick profit. We don’t do what everyone else does. In fact our way of doing things may even be a little harder on us, but it’s how I would want to be treated if I were in your shoes.

Written by Thomas Kral, the founder of Reliable American, Inc., February 9, 2012