As a radio host, it’s important that I remain assiduously topical. There are times when people aren’t talking about mortgages; it’s rare, but it does happen. In such instances, it’s my duty to contribute to the topic of the day by tenuously relating it back to housing or mortgages or finance. So with last week’s hailstorm and the resulting catastrophic damage, I have no choice but to join the rest of the Pikes Peak region in talking about it.
Some hailstorm, eh?
I didn’t know this before consulting Wikipedia, but Colorado Springs is the epicenter of Hail Alley—the most hail-prone region in North America, where Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska meet. Although Colorado Springs doesn’t experience the same frequency of hailstorms as Cheyenne, Wyoming—ten to twelve each year—or the severity of softball-sized hail seen during tornado season in Kansas, it’s still a nuisance to deal with. As though torrential flooding and epic wildfires aren’t bad enough, God added hailstorms to the mix. If it starts raining frogs, it’s time to hightail it out of here!
Now, why are hailstorms so common and severe here? It’s because of how hail forms: tiny water droplets are forced up into the upper-atmosphere, where they collect more moisture, freeze, and then descend. Air moving across the Rocky Mountains toward the Midwest is thrust upward as it climbs over the Front Range, and the resulting hail falls all across the eastern side.
In retrospect it’s quite fascinating. At the time of the hailstorm and immediately after, it was terrifying, frustrating, and maddening. But a few days and several thousand dollars in insurance payouts later, I can look back at the hailstorm with intrigue and admiration. It’s an awesome force of nature, to be sure. And I’m sure every auto body and dent repair shop in the region was positively elated when the hail started smashing into their windows—as was, I imagine, every window installer, roofer, landscaper, and practically anyone who will be contacted for cleanup.
Which brings us to that tenuous link I promised earlier. This is a housing and mortgage show, and so far precious few words have been spent on housing. So here it is: Hailstorms can cause extraordinary amounts of damage, and your home’s only defense is, in fact, no defense at all: its roof. As one of the most expensive components of your home, it’s a bit like stopping a baseball bat with a Faberge egg. The damage can be immediate and lasting, so should be dealt with by a competent professional.
Every roofer and contractor I know suggests having the damage assessed by a general contractor, or a trusted roofer. Immediately after a storm, you’ll probably be inundated with advertisements for roofers. Naturally, they make money when they find damage, so of course they’ll try to sell you on a roof. A general contractor, meanwhile, will assess your roof, siding, windows, vents, and so on. Their inspection will be more thorough and will identify issues most roofers will miss.
Crucially, it’s important to have your roof’s singles inspected for damage. Typically, the worst damage comes not from cracks in the shingles’ asphalt layer, but in cracks to the fiberglass layer beneath the shingles. These need to be inspected to ensure systemic damage is not missed just because cosmetic damage isn’t evident. And all this doesn’t even begin to cover the potential damage to tile, wood, or T-lock roofs.
Your home is your most significant investment, and odds are it was just hammered by hail. It’s imperative to have your home inspected as soon as possible to ensure any damage suffered does not cause more problems, and to ensure a timely insurance claim should repairs be necessary. Most insurance companies have limits on how long after a disaster you can file a claim. This is, in fact, an excellent time to review your current homeowners insurance policy and familiarize yourself with its terms, premiums, and deductions. Many insurance providers have different deductibles for general claims versus claims against wind, hail, and frogs.
5-31-14 HAIL TO COLORADO