Freak hail storms prompt insurance questions about coverage for damage

Here in New England, our weather disasters are primarily winter-related. We managed to dodge the bullet of freak hail storms that have been plaguing many parts of the country in recent weeks. Check out the photo links and videos below to see just how freaky and wild the damage from such storms can be.

We’ve noticed an uptick of questions about hail lately:

Q. Is hail damage to my house covered by my homeowners insurance?
A. Most homeowner policies cover hail damage. See this handy chart from the Insurance Information Institute on the types of disasters covered by homeowners insurance, as well as a discussion of typical exclusions (floods and earthquakes both require specific policies or endorsements)

Q. Does my auto insurance cover hail damage?
A. Do you have comprehensive coverage? That is the portion of an auto policy that generally would cover damage caused by hail. See the III on what is covered by a basic auto insurance policy.

Texas A&M university offers an explanation of what causes hail, as well as this fascinating information about record-breaking hail from the University’s Dr. Dick Orville:

“A hailstone the size of a baseball weighs about one-third of a pound, and since it can travel up to 90 miles an hour from its source cloud, it can create a lot of damage. Entire crops have been known to be wiped out in a few minutes with large hailstones. In 1978, about 200 sheep were killed in Montana when baseball-size hail struck them. The largest hailstone ever recorded in the U.S. occurred in 1970 in Coffeyville, Kan., when a stone weighing 1.6 pounds and measuring 5.5 inches fell, while in 1973 a hailstone hit Cedoux, Saskatchewan, and measured 4 inches. But we know that larger stones have fallen around the world. In 1984, a hail storm hit Denver and lasted almost one hour and the result was knee-deep hailstones on the ground. This is why hail can be such a damaging weather force.”

Seeing is believing
Check out these photo galleries and video clips showing recent damage by freak hail storms in Nebraska and Pennsylvania.