Alberta’s hailstorm alley stretches from High River north to Red Deer. This area sees many storms producing hailstones capable of severe damage. In fact, the top two costliest hail losses in Canadian history, causing $1.3 billion and $524 million in insured damages to property, occurred in this region in 2020 and 2014, respectively.
Fortunately, our weather observational and predictive technology is improving. This can give more warning of incoming hailstorms and allow people to react or be prepared for the storm.
The Alberta Severe Weather Management Society also carries out cloud seeding to help reduce the amount and size of hailstones. This organization was established in 1996 by insurance companies as a private non-profit. These insurers currently contribute millions each year to the cloud seeding program to reduce the amount of damage done to property by hailstorms.
So, what can you do to protect your property from hail damage in Alberta?
There are some easy steps you can take to protect your property from hail damage, as well as actions that require more of an investment.
How to Protect Your Home from Hail Damage in Alberta
There are a few ways you can protect your home from hail damage:
- Keep your roofing and gutter system in good repair.
- Ensure gutters are clear by cleaning them regularly.
- Protect outdoor property such as patio furniture, barbecues, potted plants and yard equipment by moving them inside or covering them with a tarp or proper cover.
- Pull in or close any umbrellas or awnings (these can be damaged by hail or by wind).
- Protect plants by placing a tarp over top. You can also try using stakes with a tarp or cloth over top to hold the material off the plant and provide more protection.
- Close your windows as well as the blinds and curtains.
- Consider installing storm shutters, safety films or overhangs for windows, particularly those standing against prevailing winds.
- When it comes time to replace your roof, consider installing hail-resistant roofing (rubber, metal or tile).
- If you’re buying a home or can change the exterior finish, avoid vinyl siding and instead choose more resilient sidings such as stucco, brick or Hardie board.
- Maintain your trees to help prevent broken branches from hitting your home.
Some municipalities offer incentive programs for installing hail-resistant materials. In 2021 for example, the City of Calgary is offering a $3,000 rebate for homeowners whose roofs were damaged by hail in 2020 and install hail-resistant class IV roofing.
If your home is damaged by hail, most property insurance will cover the damage. However, if your roof has not been properly maintained, you may not be fully covered. Talk to your broker about your roof maintenance and your insurance policy to understand your coverage.
How to Protect Your Car from Hail Damage in Alberta
It can be difficult to protect your car from hail damage. However, there are a few methods to help protect your vehicle:
- Check the weather before you drive! If there’s an incoming hailstorm, maybe wait for the storm to roll past before you head out.
- Invest in a garage or carport where you can park your vehicle(s) at home.
- Install a hail damage protection system, such as a speciality car cover.
- Put cardboard and/or blankets (the thicker the better) over your car, making sure to secure them with bungee cords. In a crunch, even your floor mats work (put them on the most vulnerable areas such as a sky roof).
If a hailstorm hits while you’re driving, the best thing to do is to pull over into a public garage or under a gas station cover if there’s one nearby. If this isn’t an option, pull over onto the shoulder with your hazards on if it’s safe to do so. Parking behind a building that blocks the prevailing wind can even help reduce damage.
Don’t stop under trees as they don’t offer adequate protection and wind may blow branches down. You should also NEVER stop under a bridge in a driving lane as this can cause an accident!
Important Note: You’re only covered for hail damage if you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance and do not have a hail exclusion on your policy. Your broker can discuss this coverage with you and review your policy.
After a Hailstorm
It’s important to inspect your property for any damage after a hailstorm:
- Check for damage yourself, if safe to do so.
- If you see any damage, document it with photos and video.
- Note the date and time of the storm, as well as your location. Write a description of the storm and the damage it has caused.
- Contact your broker or insurance company directly to open a claim. They will have further instructions.
- Remember to keep any receipts related to repairs!
If you’re not sure if you’re covered for hail damage, talk to your broker today. We’re also happy to provide a quote including hail protection for your home and car insurance.