Recently, I have heard complaints regarding the aftermath of the unusually high winds Southern California experienced last year. After our extensive period of "hurricane force" winds, Southern Californians are now discovering that just because their roofs look alright, the wind didn’t cause substantial damage. Most people consider a roof damaged by wind only if a portion of the roof is blown off.

In fact, wind buffeting may not be visible to the average homeowner, but ensuing rains can show when wind has lifted portions of the roof or has caused enough damage to allow substantial leaking. Unfortunately, the leaks resulting from wind damage do not deteriorate slowly over time. With every rainfall, the damage becomes more evident as small leaks turn into large leaks and roof cave-ins become possible over a relatively short period of time.

The first claims I am hearing about are denials based on "wear and tear" exclusions for relatively new roofs. It’s been about three to four months since the strong winds began tearing through Southern California.

As subtle wind damage becomes evident and policyholders report wind damage claims to their insurers, it will be interesting to see what percentage of Southern Californians were impacted by the unusually strong winds and, of these structures impacted, how many of these wind claims will be recognized by insurers.