If you live in Calgary, you are probably used to frequent hailstorms in the summer season.
While hailstorms rarely cause bodily injury, they do, however, cause a lot of damage to property. For instance, Calgary lost at least $1.2 billion in the aftermath of the June 13 hailstorm in 2020. Over 1 billion dollars vanished on a single day!
Hailstorm damage often includes homes, autos, farms, and many other properties. Thus, you always need to be prepared. Both mitigation and insurance are equally important, as some hailstorm damage is unavoidable, even if you apply the highest precautions. Neglecting insurance can be a super costly mistake.
What is Hail?
Although hail and snow are both some solid forms of water, they are different from one another. Think of them as two music fans, one into classical music and the other into death metal.
The most upsetting thing about hail is the absence of fluff. I mean, who doesn’t like to watch fluffy snowflakes falling at a slow speed while holding a cup of hot chocolate inside a warm house? No one! While snowflakes are made of tiny ice crystals, hailstones are made of frozen raindrops, which are significantly larger and heavier than pure ice crystals.
According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, hail is formed when the water inside a thunderstorm moves to the top. The cold air then freezes that water, making it heavier and forcing it to move downwards. The frozen water is then forced upwards and downwards a couple of times due to the force of the thunderstorm. During that continuous motion, the frozen water (baby hailstone) keeps melting and re-freezing multiple times, creating hailstone layers. At a certain point, the layers add up and the hailstone can no longer resist gravity and eventually falls.
Why Does Hail Cause a Lot of Damage?
The size of hailstones depends on the thunderstorm’s strength. It only makes sense that stronger thunderstorms would drop larger (and heavier) hailstones, thus leading to more damage. Not only that, larger hailstones tend to be irregular in shape, with higher chances of having random spikes instead of being round, due to the several rolling while free-falling from the sky. That irregular structure can do more damage when compared to the regular shape.
Although most hailstones have an average diameter of around 5 millimeters, some hailstones can reach a diameter of 15 centimeters and weigh more than 0.5kg. The largest recorded hailstone appeared on July 23, 2010 in South Dakota, USA. It had a diameter of 20.3 centimeters and weighed 0.88 kilograms. You can imagine the impact an object that heavy can cause upon falling from such a high altitude. It caused a 25-centimeter diameter pit.
How to Minimize Hail Damage
- Do not wait for the surprise.
Stay tuned to local weather forecasts. Most hailstorms get projected before occurring, especially the severe ones. If you are isolated from the news, watch out for pre-hailstorm signs: dark clouds, thunder, lightning, heavy rain, and strong winds.
- Cover large property items.
Try to transfer your vehicles, boats, outdoor furniture, and any other large property items to a safe-covered space, like a garage or a basement.
- Stay indoors.
Stay indoors alongside your kids and pets, and provide a covered shelter for livestock. During the hailstorm, make sure to close your windows and doors. Close the curtains to reduce the impact in case windows get shattered.
Make sure that your outdoor area is ready to withstand strong winds. Try to keep your trees trimmed on a regular basis.
- Never drive
If a hailstorm starts while driving, stop immediately where it’s safe away from trees, towers, and metal fences. Stay in your vehicle with your face pointed in the opposite direction from the car windows.
- Be reactive.
Always protect your head with any means possible. If you have nowhere to hide, try to crouch down and use your hands to protect your head and neck. Remember to keep your face away from the wind.
All the previous measures might mitigate some but not all the damage. So, you don’t want to forget the most important thing to do. GET INSURANCE!
Do I Need Insurance Against Hail?
With Calgary being in Canada’s Hailstorm Alley area, it is always a hot spot for hailstorms. Hailstorms have always been costly to insurance companies in Alberta. In 2012, insurance companies collaborated to budget $2.5 million for hailstorm suppression through cloud seeding. They were trying to reduce hailstorm insurance claims by using technology to lessen their severity. Unfortunately, the cloud seeding project didn’t show much success until now.
Based on the previous information, you can easily deduce how damaging hailstorms are, and how important it is to be insured against them.
How to Get Insurance that Protects my Home from Hail
Most home insurance policies cover you against hailstorms. Coverage should be inclusive of damage caused by falling trees, water, wind, or hail.
How to Protect your Vehicle from Hail Damage
Comprehensive or all perils auto insurance policies can protect you against hailstorms. Such policies cover you against damage to autos caused by wind, water, or hail.
That’s a Wrap!
It is important to know that in July, the hail season is still in the beginning stages. The hail season often lasts between June and September in Calgary. So stay safe!