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What Does Hail Damage Look Like On A Roof?

Hail damaged clay tiles on a roof

What the hail? Exactly, so what does hail damage look like on a roof? According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), hail damage costs US homeowners an estimated $1.07 billion dollars each year. Most hail is about the size of a pea or a small rock, and is relatively harmless outside of a few dings and dents here and there. But a severe thunderstorm or tornadic storm system can produce hail as large as a golf ball or even a softball! Hail that size (and yes, even smaller hailstones) can quickly cause significant damage to your roof. 

The states that see the most hail each year, according to Insurify, are the seven states located in tornado alley – Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. That’s unsurprising, since most tornadoes are accompanied by hard rain, severe lightning and hail. 

Hail damage can shorten the lifespan of your home’s roof, which is why you’ll want to learn how to identify it early on. In this article, you’ll learn all about what does hail damage look like on a roof, along with some of the ways you can tell your roof may be damaged by hail. 

Why Does Hail Cause So Much Damage?

The short answer to the question, why does hail cause so much damage is that it’s ice. We’re all familiar with the damage ice can do: after all, just look at power lines and tree branches after a heavy ice storm. And consider those potholes in your local roads caused by expanding and contracting from icy weather conditions. 

So when ice in the form of hail falls from the sky, combined with potentially high winds or even a tornado, it’s easy to see that it has the potential for catastrophic damage to homes, trees, cars and even people in the path of a hailstorm. 

Can 1-inch hail cause damage to a roof?

One-inch hail marks the threshold between a regular storm and a severe storm, according to the National Weather Service. So, it’s important to know what kind of damage your roof might sustain if you’re in the path of a severe thunderstorm with hail. 

Small hail isn’t likely to do much damage to your shingled roof. But hailstones larger than an inch in diameter (combined with high winds) can actually punch through your shingles, which can expose your roof decking to moisture. Over time, this can of course lead to deterioration of your roofing structure and cause leaks inside your home. 

Below, we’ve included a handy guide to the different sizes of hail and the potential damage caused by each. 

Hail SizeCan Potentially Damage
Quarter (1-inch hail)lightweight asphalt shingles
Half-dollar (1.25-inch hail)heavyweight asphalt shingles
Walnut (1.5-inch hail)wood shake and clay tile 
Golf ball (1.75-inch hail)concrete roof
Hen Egg (2-inch hail)built-up and EPDM roofing
Tennis ball (2.5-inch hail)galvanized metal roofing
Hail Size to Damage Potential According To Roofing Material
Close up of hail damage on asphalt roofing showing what hail damage looks like

How to Identify Hail Damage To An Asphalt Roof

A visual inspection is often enough to identify hail damage to an asphalt roof. You might see small, round holes or patchy spots, depending on the size of the hail. A roofing inspector can climb onto your roof and check your shingles for damage. They’ll also likely take a look at softer metal components, like your roof’s flashing, gutters or vents, since these will more obviously display hail damage. 

Bent metal roofing from hail damage

How to Identify Hail Damage To A Metal Roof

While there are lots of benefits of a metal roof, sustaining hail damage is hardly one of them. Even minor dings and dents from hailstones can trigger rust growth, which can eventually damage the wooden roof decking and drastically decrease the lifespan of your roof. Large hail can cause gaps in the seams between sheets of metal, or even damage fasteners, allowing moisture to seep into the underlayment. 

What does hail damage look like on a roof made of metal? Luckily, it’s rather simple to identify. After all, even average-sized hailstones can cause visible dings in the otherwise smooth sheet metal on a roof. If you notice hail damage on your metal roof, contact a roofing inspector to have them ensure the protective finish of the sheet metal hasn’t been compromised. 

Close up of broken clay tiles from hail damage on a roof

How to Identify Hail Damage To A Tile Roof

A tile roof is a popular choice, since it can easily withstand extreme temperature variations, direct sunlight and high winds. But large hail can damage clay tiles. According to the chart above, walnut-sized hail can crack clay tiles, which can lead to the need for early replacement. If you’re wondering how to identify hail damage to a tile roof, simply look for loose or cracked tiles.  

What Happens When You Ignore Hail Damage?

Don’t be fooled by hail damage: those little dings and dents have a sneaky way of looking like superficial damage to your roof. But when the outer surface of a roof becomes damaged, you always run the risk of having moisture seep into the underlayment and roof decking. Since those parts of the roofing structure are most often made of wood (or located close to wood), your roof is at risk of deterioration and leaks. 

That’s why it’s important to contact a roofing professional if your area has been hit with large hail during a severe storm. Especially if you’ve performed a visual inspection from the ground and you can see possible hail damage, a licensed roofing contractor or inspector can help you determine whether the damage is bad enough to file a claim through your homeowner’s insurance. 

Roof inspector holding a clipboard

Is a Hail Damaged Roof Covered By Insurance?

If your roof has been badly damaged by hail, you’ll be glad to know that hail damage is likely covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. In fact, State Farm reports that it paid $3.5 billion in hail damage claims in 2022, the most recent year for which data is available. When filing a claim to have roof damage covered, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the following terms: 

  • Actual Cash Value (ACV) – This type of plan covers the depreciated cost of your roof. In other words, you’ll receive a payout that covers only the current value of your roof. This often won’t be enough to cover the full replacement cost. 
  • Replacement Cost Value (RCV) – This type of plan will cover the full cost of replacing your roof. 

How long do I have to file an insurance claim for hail damage?

Most homeowners have to make their claims within one year of the hail damage occurring. This can vary depending on your specific insurance carrier or type of policy. In some states, it can vary depending on the severity of the storm or if a national disaster strikes the area. Be sure you check before you file a claim. Check out our blog How To Get Insurance To Pay For A Roof Replacement? for more tips on dealing with insurance!

What to Do When Your Roof Has Hail Damage

A roof that’s badly damaged by hail will likely need to be replaced. Whether you’ll file an insurance claim or not, the first thing to do when your roof is damaged by hail is to contact a roofing inspector. They know the answer to the question “What does hail damage look like on a roof?” and they can get you exactly what you need to get started. They can give you an idea of the replacement cost, which you’ll then use when filing a claim with your homeowners insurance policy. Our guide to roof replacement cost can help you learn what to expect when it comes time to replace your roof.

Instant Roofer’s Roof Replacement Cost Calculator

Or, you can begin the process by using our roof replacement cost calculator. This AI-powered tool calculates roofing costs for your specific home using satellite imagery and consistently updated data concerning roofing costs by state and geographic location. Get an estimate for repairing your hail damage today! 

Connect to Roofing Experts in Your Area Today

Instant Roofer offers amazing tools that help homeowners be more in control and in-the-know when it comes to replacing their roof. We help by getting you an accurate estimate for your roof before you ever need to reach out and then we help you find a roofer in your area that is a perfect match for the job. 

Fact checked by Christin Perry – 2/23/2024