I am learning much from hail damage claims throughout the United States. While I mentioned Phoenix hail damage claims in Arizona Office Opened—Hail Damage Claims Disputed, I was in St. Louis, Missouri, for a mediation yesterday regarding a Kansas City hail storm claim dispute. The Gateway Arch was clear from the office building where the mediation occurred. By the time we finished, people dressed in red were making their way to Busch Stadium to see their beloved St. Louis Cardinals. My father is a lifelong Cardinals fan, and it brought back memories of us travelling to see his Cardinals play.

A mediation can drag on with many possibilities for dead time. While substance of the mediation is confidential and cannot be discussed, I tried to use my time constructively and researched a number of issues involving hail damage and called several experts as issues arose in discussion. While I have been to a number of hail insurance seminars in the past, I find that each hail damage case raises new challenges and novel issues. Though I have disagree with many of the conclusions reached, I recommend HAAG Hail Damage publications and seminars to those practicing in this field.

One problem with the analysis of hail claims is the photographic documentation and preservation of hail strikes and impacts. There are many subtle changes to property that evidence the damage. Being a good photographer is important because shade differences in color are often hard to see when looking at photographs. I often mention to insurance companies that their experts are skilled at taking photographs of hail damaged areas from far away and very skilled at photographing many areas of lightly impacted hail strikes. My client, an executive of a property management company in Houston, noted that on-site property managers should develop standards for preserving evidence thorough photographs and videotape because some insurance companies may not have an incentive for doing that job.

I came across a hail damage article, Hail Damage to Roof Shingles, by a forensic engineering firm, C. Roberts Consulting Engineers, Inc. I noted a quote in the paper that said, “new asphalt shingles are more resistant to hail impact than older shingles since the asphalt becomes more brittle with age.” This seemed pretty obvious to me, and it is important to many of our clients. Believe it or not, hail damage happens more frequently to older roofs, and more people have older roofs rather than brand new roofs.

Policyholders are often wrongfully made to feel bad for making a hail damage claim if their roof is older. Many claims adjusters ask their policyholders, “you have an older roof, do you expect us to pay for a new one?” If the policyholder purchased a replacement cost value policy, the answer should be “yes” because the policyholder paid for a replacement cost policy. Insurance companies that sell a replacement cost value product choose to assume the risk of replacing old property for new if a covered loss occurs. Some claims adjusters forget this promise after the loss happens.

For a little excitement, how about this hail storm event in Oklahoma City: