Dan's Blog

Hail Chasers
Friday, January 11, 2008

Who chases hail? Roofers, of course.

Some roofers will tell you that your roof has hail damage and that your homeowners insurance will pay for replacement.

Recent changes in the International Residential Code prohibit re-roofing in an area subject to moderate hail damage; Atlanta and north Georgia included.

Two words were added to the existing section:

In the old code re-covering of roof shingles was prohibited in areas subject to severe hail damage
The national hail exposure map identifies north-central Texas and portions of eastern Oklahoma as areas subject to severe damage

The new code prohibits re-covering in areas subject to moderate or severe hail damage.

This change increased the area covered by a factor of 17 to include western portions of the Midwest from near the Canadian border almost to the Gulf of Mexico and a 200 mile wide swath from the northern Georgia/Alabama border through northwestern South Carolina and all of North Carolina except for the tidewater and coastal counties.

I received an inquiry from an inspection client regarding marketing by a roofing company. The company had told them a recent storm had caused hail damage. The contractor told them they could get their homeowners insurance to pay the bulk of the replacement cost. They were asked to sign a blank contract.

Insurance adjustors disburse payments for shingle replacement but cannot risk walking on roofs. They rely on roofing contractors for a reliable assessment of shingle damage. 

I inspected the roof and found no shingle damage other than normal wear and tear. 

The contractor returned and reminded my clients that their neighbors were using his company. He also left literature remarkably similar to a well-known and reputable roofing company.

I called that company and found that this sort of ploy is very common. All it takes is a dishonest roofing contractor and a compliant insurance adjustor.

Homeowners who buy into this scheme receive an overpriced shingle job of questionable quality and, because they sign incomplete contracts, have no legal recourse should their roofs leak. In addition they are either knowingly or unwittingly participating in insurance fraud. The insurance company ends up paying 5000 of the 6000 dollar replacement cost.

Of course we all pay for this type of practice with higher insurance premiums.

There is little evidence that hail causes appreciable damage and substantial evidence that roofing contractors “create” damage. Read the following abstract


Shingles deteriorate when their surface granules wear away exposing the asphalt base to ultraviolet light. Hail can aggravate the loss of granules but is not a principle cause of granule loss.

I didn’t ask the International Code Council why they changed the wording. 

Perhaps it’s because we are in a cycle of extreme weather and the potential for damage is greater.

Perhaps they don’t make shingles like they used to: newer shingles weigh less, have fewer granules for protection and therefore wear out quicker.

And no, I don’t think the Code officials are catering to the roofing industry. 

But the result of this two word change in the code may have opened the door to possible fraud. 

Just thought you might want to know, especially if you live in a 12-16 year old subdivision and there’s a roofer knocking on your door. 

Caveat Emptor


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