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How to prevent hail damage

June 3rd, 2024  |  Home Insurance

If you’ve never experienced a bad hailstorm, it can be like a “shotgun blast from the sky.”

According to Public Safety Canada, hail season in Canada occurs from May to October. That’s because hail occurs in the strong updrafts needed to form thunderstorms which are more common in the warmer months. The storm has to be one in which updrafts are strong enough to carry raindrops up into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere where they freeze and become ice pellets.

While it occurs across Canada and most frequently in Alberta, it also happens in the southern Prairies and southern Ontario. It can be devastating for farmers whose crops are crushed or others whose homes and cars are damaged. Put simply, a hailstorm can translate into a financial burden.

The costliest hailstorm in Canadian history, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), was in Calgary on June 13, 2020. It resulted in approximately 70,000 insurance claims and over $1.3 billion in insured damages. The majority of the damage was to homes and vehicles, with a smaller percentage to commercial property.

As a result of climate change, hailstorms and other natural disasters are increasing in frequency and severity. With today's extreme weather events, insured catastrophic losses in Canada now routinely exceed $2 billion annually.

Reducing the impact of damaging hail

According to the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction’s (ICLR’s) HailSmart Program, once hailstones are about the size of a quarter or larger, they can cause extensive damage to vehicles, homes and other structures.

So, how do we prevent hail from becoming so destructive? One way is “cloud seeding.”

The Alberta Severe Weather Management Society is a private non-profit that was established in 1996 by provincial insurance companies to create a program called the Alberta Hail Suppression Project. The project, according to The Weather Network, has its own weather radar and five cloud-seeding airplanes that usually fly in pairs to meet clouds that register as potentially severe.

An aircraft “seeds” clouds with silver iodide smoke particles, an agent that helps speed up the formation of ice. The objective is to create more ice crystals at a warmer temperature that compete for the cloud’s liquid water and, therefore, make smaller hail. Think of hail going from the size of a golf ball to a pea – a lot less damaging!

Be ready for hail season

IBC says one of the most proactive steps a homeowner can take to safeguard their home and property from hail damage is to speak with their insurance representative before hail season arrives.

They can help you understand the types of damages covered under your homeowner or tenant policy, such as damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or from rain entering through openings caused by wind or hail. Make sure you tell your insurer if you’ve made any improvements or updates to your home, such as installing a new roof with impact-resistant shingles.

Not all car insurance policies cover hail damage. Confirm that you have optional comprehensive coverage, which protects your vehicle from damage caused by common insurance perils, including fire, high winds and hail.

Your insurer can also explain the process of filing a claim, the documentation you’ll need and the timeline for processing of a claim. Knowing this in advance ensures a smoother experience if you ever need to make a hail-related claim.

Precautions to protect your home

When thunderstorms – which can include hail – are in the forecast, follow these precautions to help protect your home and property from hail damage:

  • Park your vehicle in a covered area
  • Clear your eavestroughs of debris to ensure proper drainage
  • Cover outdoor items like barbecues and patio furniture or store them indoors

Longer-term hail protection tips:

  • Use window safety films to help prevent glass from shattering
  • Consider installing impact-resistant storm shutters for windows, skylights and doors
  • Install a self-adhering waterproofing underlayment when re-roofing and consider using Class 4 impact-resistant roofing when completing upgrades or repairs

Staying safe during a hailstorm

Be ready before it hits. Here are simple actions you can take to keep yourself and your family safe:

  • Seek shelter in a safe, secure building
  • Stay away from windows, doors and skylights
  • If you’re driving, find a place to safely pull off the road and protect yourself from shattered glass by facing away from all windows
  • If you’re caught outdoors with no immediately accessible shelter, crouch down, face away from the wind and protect your head and neck with your hands
  • Watch for flooded areas – excessive hail combined with heavy rain can plug storm drains and create localized flooding
  • Stay away from trees, towers, metal fences or poles to avoid injury from lightning

The HailSmart™ program offers more tips on keeping homes and businesses protected. For example, as a homeowner, it shows you how to identify hail damage (not as simple as it seems). It discusses which roof coverings and building materials are better at resisting the impact of hail.

See the HailSmart™ tips for businesses and commercial operations here.


IBC reveals how much severe weather cost Canada

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