If you’ve lived in Colorado for at least a year, then you’ve likely experienced one of its infamous hail storms. Every year, Colorado residents brace themselves for these annual storms and the potential hail damage that comes along with them.
Hail is not only dangerous, but it can be extremely costly when it occurs. It can destroy crops, total automobiles, and pummel roofs (among many other things). As a result, many Colorado residents have become well acquainted with hail insurance and hail damage repair.
Hail damage to a home’s exterior coverings can greatly reduce the lifespan of the material and can often lead to weak areas where the outside elements can get in.
If you are in the market for new home, it is always a good idea to know the potential hail damage risk of the area and to get an exterior and roof inspection to assess for any past hail damage.
Ok, so we all know that hail is a bunch of ice balls that fall out of the sky and ruin peoples’ days. But what causes it and why is Colorado such a hail hot spot?
Hailstones are formed in large clouds by a combination of strong winds and cold temperatures. During a storm, frozen droplets start to fall from a cloud. But as these droplets fall, strong wind updrafts push them back up into the clouds. The droplets start to gather and freeze together forming larger hailstones.
The stronger the wind, the longer this cycle continues, which thus creates larger hailstones. Once the hailstones are too strong for the updraft to keep pushing back up, then the hail rains down to the earth.
Eastern Colorado is located in a particular area that is geographically prone to hail storms, known by many as “Hail Alley.” This region runs from Wyoming down to Texas, and is said to have the perfect atmospheric and land conditions that lead to higher-than-average hail storms per year.
Hail does, of course, occur in other parts of the US, but hailstones are less likely to be intact by the time they reach the ground. Much of the time, hail has melted into rain before making contact with the earth. But our beloved Colorado is much higher above sea level than many other US regions. Thus, hail has a shorter time to fall and it is more likely for solid hailstones to reach us.
Mammatus clouds forming before a hail storm in Colorado. Image sourced from: strangesounds.org
What’s the Damage?
Hail has really done a number on the Colorado Front Range throughout the years. The hail season generally runs from mid-April to mid-August, and according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, Hail Alley generally sees about 7 to 9 hail days per year. That presents quite a lot of potential for damage.
A study conducted by a national insurance association, exhibited that between 2018 and 2020, Colorado had the second most hail damage insurance claims (next to Texas). Over the years, mother nature’s wrath has caused billions in damages. Colorado’s most costly hail storm to date occurred in the Denver area in May 2017, adding up to a whopping $2.3 billion in damages. That was just from one storm!
The chart shown above is from the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA). It displays the top most costly storms in Colorado history. As you can see, the most damage generally occurs in the Denver Metro area. This makes sense because there are naturally going to be more buildings, homes, businesses, automobiles etc. in an urban area.
As building and expansion continues in Denver and throughout the state, it follows that there will continue to be more and more property susceptible to hail damage. It follows that if you live on the CO Front Range, it’s a virtual must to have solid roof and exterior coverage (as well as good auto insurance).
Unfortunately, the region’s increased vulnerability to hail has led to high premiums. In this situation, common insurance practices apply – higher risk equals higher up-front costs.
Inspecting for Hail Damage
If you are in the market for a new home, it goes without saying that you should get the property professionally inspected. Before making such a big commitment, it is so important to observe all facets of the home, including the exterior and roof.
A house’s exterior acts as its shield from the elements, and any weaknesses in this “armor” could lead to a cascade of collateral issues. Here at Scott Home Inspection, we understand the importance of a strong exterior. So our inspectors are always paying close attention for any defects – especially hail damage.
Our standard Pre-Purchase Home Inspection includes a thorough exterior examination, which covers siding, windows and roofing. We serve clients all over over the Front Range in the most hail-vulnerable parts of the of the state. And we’ve come to find that even brand new components of a home may be at risk. One bad storm could total a new roof or break a new window pane.
If an inspector does identify hail damage, they will be sure to notify the client and recommend further evaluation by a qualified specialist. If you are looking to buy a home and in need of an inspection, feel free to reach out to schedule your inspection today.
How To Handle Hail
As CO homeowners, what can we do to anticipate and deal with these potentially destructive hail storms?
First of all, know your level of risk. Do you reside in the infamous Hail Alley portion of CO? If so, it’s probably a good idea to get some solid coverage.
If you are insured, know your policy. Most CO homeowner’s insurance policies cover hail damage to some extent. But it’s never a bad idea to get in contact with your agent to get some clarification.
In the case that your property does get damaged by hail, be sure to file a claim as soon as possible. Once all that insurance paperwork is properly filed, do your research to find a suitable repair specialist.
For more helpful information on this topic, visit the RMIIA website.
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Chris Kimmel worked as an Associate Home Inspector for two years, handling numerous services including sewer scope inspections, pest inspections, mold air sample testing, radon testing, and water quality testing. Chris now works with Scott Home Inspection as a Content Writing Specialist.