If your roof has been damaged by hail, it’s very important that you react quickly and take the appropriate steps to mitigate and prevent further damage.

Hail damage can wreak havoc on your roof’s appearance and structure. In severe cases, hailstones can actually puncture your roof, causing leaks and creating bigger problems for your home.

The good news is that roof hail damage is often covered by home insurance companies. After all, a damaged roof left unrepaired will only lead to additional claims down the road. That said, you’ll still need to provide proper documentation to your insurance provider if you hope to get your claim approved.

What’s more, you’ll need to be wary of crooked storm chasers looking to make a quick buck off of your misfortune. In dealing with hail damage, you should always seek out an experienced, reputable roofer.

This post will guide you through the three most important steps in addressing hail damage.

Check for Signs of Hail Damage

Depending upon factors like wind, the size of the hailstones, and the material your roof is made of, hail damage can vary in severity. In the wake of a serious hailstorm, your roof will require inspection.

Make an appointment for a roofer to come and inspect your roof. A good roofer will be able to advise you on whether or not you should file an insurance claim.

If your roof has asphalt or composite shingles, you’ll want to be on the lookout for granule loss and hit marks that are black and soft to the touch. If your roof has wood shingles, on the other hand, the telltale signs of hail damage will be impact marks, dents, and splits in otherwise unblemished shingles.

Document and File an Insurance Claim

The first step in filing an insurance claim is finding out what your policy covers. Locate your homeowner’s insurance policy or contact your insurance provider. Often insurance coverage amounts are dependent upon the age of the roof that has been damaged.

Next you’ll want to get your documentation in order. This means your insurance policy number, the date and time of the hailstorm, and any photographic evidence of the storm or the hail damage you are able to acquire. The more documentation you can provide, the better your case.

It is a good idea to take photos of fallen hailstones next to a measuring tape to verify their size. Better yet, prepare yourself for the worst by taking “before” pictures of your roof. This way, after damage occurs, you can show your insurance provider “before” and “after” images to confirm that hail damage has taken place.

Once you have everything together, call your insurance claim number and provide this information. A claims adjuster will be sent to your home to conduct an official roof inspection. If your claims adjuster discovers significant damage, he or she will prepare an estimate and send a report to your claim examiner, who will make the final decision regarding your claim.

Beware of Storm Chasers

The final and most important step in addressing hail damage to your roof is hiring an experienced local roofer with a license and a good reputation as opposed to a storm chaser.

Storm chasers are scammers who follow storms across the country solely to exploit those impacted by them. They capitalize on unsuspecting homeowners, charging them for shoddy roof repair or replacement, and they may disappear after the work gets done.

This report by CBS news even mentions storm chasers who commit insurance fraud by offering free roof inspections in areas impacted by hail storms, only to cause damage and claim that it was created by the hail. An unreputable contractor may even lie about having insurance and a valid license.

Do your research and choose wisely. Hail damage should be attended to promptly but never rashly, and don’t ever be afraid to ask for proof of a roofer’s insurance. A legitimate roofing contractor is an honest one who will help your roof recover from one hailstorm and still be there for you when the next one hits.