Protecting your home from a hailstorm

Baseball size hail covering the ground after the storm in Georgetown, Kentucky on October 7, 2014

A hailstorm can begin unexpectedly and cause damage to your home’s windows, roof and siding.

In fact, in an average year, hail causes more than $1.6 billion in roofing damage alone, according to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH). Here are some steps you can take to help protect your property and minimize hail damage when storms roll in:

Care for your roof
Your roof is your home’s first line of defense, says the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). And because hail, high winds and exposure to heat and cold can take a toll, the IBHS suggests routine roof inspections. Hiring a pro in the spring and fall to check your roof can help you spot potential problems, says the National Roofing Contractors Association.

When it comes time to replace your roof, the IBHS says it’s important to invest in impact-resistant materials (identified by a Class 3 or Class 4). Asphalt shingles, which are commonly used, typically come in both Class 3 and 4 designations, according to the IBHS. They further state that impact-resistant metal, tile and slate roofing materials are also available and are considered long-lasting options.

Protect your windows
The most common way to protect your windows, skylights and even sliding glass doors from the effects of hail is with shutters, says FLASH. There are many options, from pre-installed permanent systems that roll down or slide over windows, to temporary panels that you can store when they’re not in use.

If you’re getting ready to replace your windows, FLASH suggests buying models that are wind- and impact-resistant, because standard glass can shatter easily. FLASH says the most reliable windows will have designations noting they’ve passed specific tests.

Finally, when storms approach, recommends closing drapes and blinds. This can help reduce risk of injury from breaking glass and minimize the chance of debris entering your home.

Shelter your landscape
There are also steps you can take outdoors to help protect your home. Start by maintaining the health of your trees, says the Insurance Information Institute (III). They also suggest trimming trees and removing dead branches, to help prevent them from breaking free and potentially damaging your property.

If hail is in the forecast, the III suggests moving cars into a garage or under the protection of a carport and, if it’s safe to do so, bringing patio furniture and outdoor equipment into an enclosed space.

You may even try to lessen the impact hail can have on your garden. HGTV suggests fashioning a makeshift canopy out of tarps or blankets over flower beds, and turning pots or trash cans over individual plants to help shield them. If it hails frequently in your area, HGTV says you may want to invest in greenhouse tunnels (normally used to protect plants from extreme temperatures) to help protect your garden beds.

Severe storms can happen at any time. And while you can’t control the weather, you can take steps to help minimize the impact these storms may have on your home.

Source: Allstate Insurance