Joey Childress and Chip Merlin at the 2019 First Party Claims Conference West

Joey Childress of Childress Engineering Services from Richardson, Texas, was attending the First Party Claims Conference in Marina Del Rey, California. He came up to me and showed a video and photographs of an extreme hailstorm hitting the greater Dallas Fort Worth area.

Hail damage is no laughing matter. While many policyholders may wait to see if roof leaks appear before claiming damage, a severe hailstorm can leave a roof damaged, in need of repair and leaks may not start from such a storm for years. I usually advise policyholders to not try to climb on their roof because it is unsafe to do so and because most people have no training to determine what to look for regarding hail damage. Call a reputable professional to determine if there is hail damage.

A newspaper article from this storm, Golf Ball-size Hail Smashes Windshields, Leaves Cars ‘undriveable’ in North Texas, had this to say about the storm:

Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the industry trade group, the Insurance Council of Texas, said a 4 square-mile area in Collin County sustained the most serious damage and that early projections place the amount of insured losses at $300-400 million.

‘Parts of Frisco, parts of McKinney, parts of Allen appear to be the hardest hit,’ Hanna said. ‘We’ve seen cars and trucks with windows blown out.’

There were reports that the storms packed hail the size of grapefruit in some neighborhoods, smashing out windows to dozens of vehicles and damaging homes.

Chris Pilcic, a State Farm spokesman, said State Farm agents and the company’s claims staff have set up at City Line in Richardson.

‘We anticipate claims will continue to come in as the storms pass and it is safe for homeowners to inspect their property,’ Pilcic said. ‘We encourage homeowners to make temporary repairs to cover broken windows or damaged roofs. Document with pictures and save receipts for your claims representative.’

I am surprised that State Farm fails to warn its customers that inspecting a roof is an extraordinarily dangerous thing to do. I cannot imagine my 87 year-old mother climbing up on a roof. Yet, insurance company lawyers routinely argue “late notice” of loss as a reason not to pay because their elderly customers did not do so. Insurance companies should suggest alternatives because they certainly know that their own adjusters have to comply with OSHA safety fall regulations when investigating roof damage. Insurance companies know it is usually a dangerous thing for a lay policyholder to climb a ladder and walk on a pitched roof looking for damage and taking photographs to document the damage.

Indeed, State Farm could suggest hiring a local and reputable engineering firm like Childress Engineering Services. Childress’ website indicates:

“CES is also frequently called upon to provide emergency response, onsite consulting services to clients for the investigation of structural system failures and property damage caused by weather events, construction defects, and natural catastrophic events.”

Insurance companies should warn their policyholder customers not to undertake dangerous investigations regarding hail damage. Instead, they should suggest calling local and reputable roofers, engineering firms and licensed public adjusters that do this all the time. Indeed, public adjusters and roofers will usually do this service free of charge if there is no hail or wind damage from a hailstorm.

Thought For The Day

Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands.
—Jeff Cooper