What Does Hail Damage Look Like on a Roof?

By Amanda Lutz Updated May 16, 2024

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Roof damage can be tough to spot, especially when it’s the product of a hailstorm. The patterns of shingles could hide splotches, dents, and rust, making it tough to tell what might need fixing. In this guide, we’ll help you identify hail damage on your roof and offer tips on how to fix issues caused by hail.

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Common Signs of Hail Damage

Though hailstorms vary in intensity, they all pose risks to your household. Even pea-sized hail pieces can punch through a roof, and fierce winds can rip shingles off it. Look for these signs of potential damage if there’s been a recent hailstorm in your area:


Hail Damage on Different Roof Types

Hail damage can look different depending on which type of roof your house has.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are cost-effective and generally durable, but hail can easily damage them. Start your assessment of potential hail damage by looking around your roofline. Check for granule loss around your foundation and near gutter downspouts.

Next, look for cracked shingles, missing shingles, and patches of visible felt or underlayment. Also check for dents and punctures in shingle surfaces which will look like small, dark circles. If you hear shingles flapping in the wind, hail may have broken the seal that holds them in place.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs are stronger and more resistant to hail damage than shingle roofs, but repair can be more expensive and labor-intensive. Hail must have a diameter of at least 1 inch to pose a threat to metal.

Some of the most common types of damage you might see on a metal roof are below.

Slate or Clay Tiles

Typical hail damage to slate or clay tile roofs is relatively easy to spot, especially if you have brightly colored terra-cotta tiles. Signs of damage include cracks, missing tiles, and discolored chips in the tiles. You can also inspect your landscape for pieces of fallen tile.

Call in a roofing contractor to replace broken tiles immediately. Even hairline cracks and small chips from hail can quickly develop into bigger cracks and pits.


Hail Damage vs. Normal Wear and Tear

Hail and normal roof wear and tear both lead to falling granules, hairline tile cracks, and material degradation. Identifying the correct source of damage is critical, though. Homeowners insurance policies only repair or replace entire roofs that are damaged during covered events such as hailstorms. They won’t cover general wear and tear repairs.

Insurance providers may also amortize the life of your roof to calculate how much of a new roof they need to cover. Be sure to perform the following tasks:

Signs of hail damage include ripped or missing roof shingles, punctures and pockmarks in your roof, and circular holes that go straight through your roof sheathing or roof decking.


Filing an Insurance Claim for Hail Damage

Replacing a roof can cost more than $10,000, and repairing a roof can be expensive too. Homeowners must understand their insurance provider’s claims process to get financial assistance.

Follow these steps to file a successful claim:

  1. Review your home insurance policy: Make sure that roof repairs or replacements are covered in the event of hail damage. Every policy is different, and there may be restrictions or specific deductibles for your roof.
  2. Collect evidence of hail impact damage: Take pictures of damage, debris, and any potential leaks or gaps that reach your home’s interior immediately after a storm. The prompt collection of this evidence helps document that it’s storm damage instead of general wear and tear.
  3. File a claim: Either call your agent, or complete the online claims process by yourself. Include accurate, relevant details and be prompt.
  4. Reach out to a roofing contractor: Hire a contractor to assess your roof’s damage, perform a roof inspection, and offer a cost estimate for hail roof repair.
  5. Introduce a trusted roofing contractor to the insurance adjuster: If you trust your roofing company, ask them to coordinate with the adjuster. A roofer is especially familiar with insurance claims and can advocate on your behalf to minimize out-of-pocket costs.
  6. Opt for direct payment, not reimbursement: Insurance providers may print a check for the amount they’re willing to cover or they might offer to reimburse you. Ask the insurance company to pay the roofer directly whenever possible. Paying out of pocket and waiting for reimbursement is financially risky, and you’ll lose leverage if the insurance company doesn’t cover as many expenses as you’d hoped.

If you live in an area with frequent hailstorms, familiarize yourself with your policy, shop around for roofing contractors, and study the cost of roof replacement in your area.


Tips to Prevent Hail Damage

Your roof is a major target for hailstorms. While you can’t protect it completely, you may be able to blunt the amount of damage caused by hail.

First, consider your roofing materials. Asphalt shingles are the most readily available material, but clay tiles and metal panels are more resistant to damage. Consider upgrading if your budget allows for it.

Next, keep your landscape tidy. Hailstorms typically include high wind speeds, and this wind can dislodge tree branches and throw them against your roof. Keep your trees trimmed, remove dead branches promptly, and move loose landscaping decor or furnishings into your garage before a storm.

Make sure to also have emergency roof tarping supplies in your garage or shed. You may not be able to resolve hail damage immediately, but tarping can prevent punctures and holes along with water damage or pests.


Our Recommendation

Roof damage from hail is very possible if you live in an area with frequent hailstorms, but proper preparation can prevent disaster. The faster you identify hail damage and arrange repairs, the fewer problems you’ll likely encounter. Documenting significant damage immediately after a storm, quickly following the claims process, and enlisting support from a reputable roofing contractor can help you get the right response from your insurance provider.


Roof Hail Damage FAQ

How can you tell if a roof is damaged by hail?

You can tell that a roof is damaged by hail if it has punctures or circular dings in the shingles, tiles, or panels.

What does hail damage look like on shingles?

When hail hits shingles, it looks like either circular holes, shadowy dents, or rips in the shingles.

Can pea-sized hail damage a roof?

Even small hail sizes could damage a roof, though it’s unlikely to occur unless coupled with very strong winds. Pea-sized hail can damage a roof, but it’s less common than for softball-sized hail.

How can you tell the difference between hail damage and blistering?

You can tell the difference between hail damage and blistering based on the shape of the damage. Hail damage patterns are circular or ovular. Blistering from sun damage, heat, and wear creates larger, indistinct shapes instead.

What should I do if I find hail damage on my roof?

If you find hail damage on your roof, act immediately. File a claim as soon as possible, and call a roofing contractor for a free inspection and estimate. Document all damages and cover large patches affected by hail with a secure tarp.