Roof Hail Damage: Identifying, Preventing and Repairing in Illinois

May 21, 2024

Chicago is located in a region known as "Hail Alley," making it susceptible to frequent and severe hailstorms, which can cause significant damage to roofs, often leading to costly repairs if not promptly addressed.

We'll explore how hail impacts different roofing materials and the potential consequences of such damage. Learn effective methods for detecting roof hail damage with a focus on homes in Illinois.

Additionally, we'll offer practical advice on what actions to take after discovering hail damage, ensuring your home is protected and your investments are secure.

Increasing Hail Events and Impact in Illinois

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hail causes approximately $1 billion in damages to crops and property in the United States each year. There has been a significant increase in hail events, with 6,962 occurrences in 2023, up from 4,436 in 2022.

Last year 2023, there were 305 severe hail events in Illinois categorized by hail size:

Hail 1.00 - 1.24 inch…………………...145 events

Hail 1.25 - 1.99 inch……………………119 events

Hail 2.00+ inch……………………………38 events

2023 Annual Preliminary Hail Summary

So far this year, up until mid-May, we have experienced a total of 155 hailstorms across Illinois:

  • Hail 1.00 - 1.24 inch…………….86 events
  • Hail 1.25 - 1.99 inch…………….53 events
  • Hail 2.00+ inch…………………...16 events

2024 Annual Preliminary Hail Summary

As we continue to move through 2024, data from NOAA serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of the weather and the importance of vigilance and preparedness.

With Illinois already recording 155 hailstorms as of mid-May, it's clear that hail remains an ongoing risk that requires attention to protect property and livelihoods from capricious skies.

Severe Hail in Illinois for the last 30 Years

The data indicates an increasing trend in hail events over the past three decades in Illinois, with significant peaks in certain years. The frequency and size of hailstones suggest growing potential for damage, emphasizing the importance of preparedness and effective roofing solutions to mitigate hail damage.

Hail Claim Costs by States

Hail claim costs by states

State Farm, a group of mutual insurance companies with headquarters in Bloomington, Illinois, revealed that the company paid out over $3.5 billion in hail claims in 2022, an increase of more than $1 billion over 2021. Illinois continues to be one of the top states for hail claims, alongside Minnesota, Texas, Arkansas, and Nebraska.

In an article published by the New York Times, insurers report higher losses due to severe weather. State Farm paid 27,300 claims for hail damage to homes and businesses in 2023, up from 23,200 in 2022, said Heather Paul, a company spokeswoman.

Payouts last year totaled $6.1 billion, more than the previous two years combined. Additionally, inflation is raising the cost of materials and labor for repairs, heightening insurers’ liabilities.

Inspecting Your Roof for Hail Damage

Hail damage on roofs varies with hail size and roofing material. Look for dents, granule loss, and bruises on asphalt shingles; dents, splits, and cracks on wood shingles; and dents, dimpling, punctures, or creases on metal roofs. 

Damage to gutters, downspouts, flashing, and vents are also signs, as are leaks in your attic or ceilings. If you suspect hail damage, contact your insurance company and get a professional roof inspection.

  • Conduct a Visual Inspection: Start by visually inspecting your roof from the ground. Use binoculars to observe the roof. Look for obvious signs of damage, such as shingle dents or punctures. This initial step helps you identify if a more detailed inspection is needed.
  • Check for Dents and Punctures: Carefully inspect shingles for dents or punctures, which can weaken the integrity of the roof and lead to leaks. Even small dents can indicate significant damage that may not be immediately apparent.
  • Inspect Granules and Shingles: Inspect asphalt shingles for granule loss, which appears as bald spots or a rough texture. Granules protect shingles from UV damage, and their loss can reduce the lifespan of your roof.
  • Inspect Gutters and Downspouts: Check gutters and downspouts for dents and accumulated granules. Hail impacts can dent metal gutters and cause granules to wash off shingles, collecting in gutters and downspouts.
  • Inspect Flashing and Attic: Look at flashings around chimneys, vents, and skylights for signs of damage. Inside your attic, check for leaks, water stains, and damp insulation, which may indicate that hail damage has compromised the roof's waterproofing.

Roof Hail Damage Repair

Hail damage roof repair costs can vary widely but typically range from $200 for minor fixes to $32,500+ for a full replacement. This typically includes replacing shingles, preventing water leaks, and fixing other features. However, extensive repairs to large sections of the roof could cost $25,000 or more, especially if it leads to a full roof replacement and fixing interior water damage caused by leaks.

For specific roofing materials, here are the average costs per square foot:

Asphalt shingles: $2–$4

Clay or concrete tiles: $3–$6

Metal shingles: $6–$15

Slate Roofing: $8-$16

Wood shingles: $6–$7

Architectural Shingles: $3–$5

It’s important to note that these are general estimates and the actual cost can be influenced by factors such as the size and complexity of the project, the specific roofing material, and your insurance coverage. For a precise quote, it’s best to consult with local roofing professionals in Chicago.

When dealing with hail damage, it’s essential to safeguard your interests by carefully selecting a legitimate contractor. Here are simple steps to ensure your contractor is legit and won’t take advantage of your situation:

  • Consult Your Insurer: Before starting major repairs, it’s wise to discuss the claim process with your insurer or agent.
  • Avoid paying with cash: Use a check or credit card to have electronic records of your payments.

Hail Damage Consumer Tips

Hail Risk Assessment

Hail is a highly volatile risk, with the level and location of activity varying widely from year to year. According to Verisk research, an estimated 7.1 million properties were exposed to damaging hail in 2019.  In addition, Verisk identified the top ten hail states for number of affected properties:

  1. Texas
  2. Colorado
  3. Illinois
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. Ohio
  6. Kansas
  7. Minnesota
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Nebraska
  10. Indiana

Using the power of advanced analytics and asset-specific data, stakeholders are now equipped to assess hail risk with unprecedented precision, transforming the way we understand and manage this unpredictable natural hazard.

Verisk provides robust hail risk assessment information based on scientifically grounded data, updated frequently to reflect the latest risk landscape.

The National Risk Index (NRI) is an interactive tool that identifies areas most vulnerable to natural hazards, including hail. The Hail Risk Index score and rating indicate a community's relative risk of hail compared to the rest of the United States. This score ranges from 1 to 10, with 1 indicating very low hail risk and 10 indicating extreme hail risk.

Hail Risk Index Rating

CAPE Analytics offer insights into why insurers need more than just storm reports to assess hail risk. Their approach emphasizes the importance of granular, property-specific data and the limitations of relying solely on general weather data and NOAA storm reports.

Furthermore, innovative open-source models, such as those developed from Swiss radar data, are revolutionizing hail damage assessments for buildings and vehicles. These tools represent a leap forward in hail risk management, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions with a level of detail that was previously unattainable.

How Do I Know If There Will be Hail?

Predicting hail involves looking for specific atmospheric conditions. Here are some key factors forecasters consider:

Deep Moist Convection: This is necessary for thunderstorms to form, which can produce hail.

Adequate Updraft: This keeps the hailstone aloft long enough to grow in size.

Sufficient Supercooled Water: This allows the hailstone to accumulate layers of ice as it travels through the updraft.

Freezing Level: The height of the freezing level in the atmosphere affects how much time hailstones have to melt before reaching the ground. A lower freezing level means hailstones are more likely to reach the surface.

Wet Bulb Zero Level: This is the altitude where the temperature is 0°C, taking into account both air temperature and moisture. Dry air can lower this level, increasing the likelihood of hail reaching the surface.

Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE): Higher CAPE values can indicate stronger storms and potentially larger hailstones.

While it’s challenging to predict the exact location and size of hail, these factors help determine the general regions where hail is possible.

Hail damage roof insurance claim in Chicago

Hail damage roof insurance claim in Chicago

Between 2018 and 2020, Illinois experienced a substantial number of hail loss claims, totaling 150,970, highlighting the significant impact of hail events in the region

Understanding your insurance policy and the claims process is crucial when dealing with hail damage to your roof in Chicago. Here are some essential points to keep in mind:

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cash Value

  • Actual Cash Value (ACV): This is the initial amount you’ll receive from the insurance company, representing the current value of your roof after accounting for depreciation. Older roofs result in lower ACV payouts.
  • Replacement Cash Value (RCV): This represents the full repair or replacement cost with new materials. You'll receive this amount after completing repairs and submitting invoices, as it combines the initial Actual Cash Value (ACV) payment and the withheld depreciation. The RCV is calculated by adding the initial ACV payment to the depreciation value that was held back initially.

The Two-Part Payment Process

  1. Initial Payment (ACV): After the insurance adjuster assesses the damage, you’ll receive an initial payment based on the ACV of the damaged roof, which helps to start the repair process.
  2. Selecting a Contractor: Hire a reputable roofing contractor to carry out the repairs. Verify their credentials and check past client reviews.
  3. Documenting Repairs: Keep a detailed log of the repair process, including dates, materials used, and labor hours. Take before-and-after photos to document the quality and extent of repairs.
  4. Submitting Repair Invoices: Once the repairs are completed, submit all invoices, receipts, and a detailed report of the work done to your insurance company for reimbursement.
  5. Depreciation Recovery: Once approved, you’ll get the remaining RCV.
  6. Final Inspection: Some insurers may require a final inspection to ensure the repairs meet their standards before releasing the final payment.
  7. Settlement Review: Review the final settlement from your insurance company to ensure it covers all the repair costs. If there are discrepancies, contact your insurer for clarification.
  8. Payment Confirmation: Confirm receipt of all payments related to your claim, including both the ACV and RCV amounts, to ensure the claim is fully settled.
  9. Record Retention: Keep all related documents, including the insurance policy, claim paperwork, repair invoices, and payment receipts, for at least a few years in case of future disputes or for tax purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Dealing with hail damage to your roof can be challenging, but being informed about the signs of damage, the insurance claim process, and selecting a reputable contractor can greatly simplify the task. Vigilance is key—promptly document any potential damage, maintain clear communication with your insurance provider, and ensure you receive fair compensation for repairs. By taking these proactive steps, you can effectively safeguard your home and investment against the unpredictable nature of hailstorms in Illinois.

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