Over the last 30 years, the average number of natural catastrophes has increased by nearly 175%. Globally, this racked up a bill of $330 billion in property damage and over $135 billion in insurance claims. While we may imagine hurricanes or tornadoes as some of the most destructive forces of nature, some of the most expensive property damage can originate from weather as ubiquitous as thunderstorms. Is your home prepared for hail?
In North America alone, hail storms cause more than $10 billion in damage every single year. Hail can happen virtually anywhere thunderstorms are possible and every state in the U.S. has a history of experiencing at least one massive hail storm, with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. Occurring most often in Central U.S. and mid-Atlantic states, some states have hundreds of storms on record, amounting to thousands happening every year nationwide. In 2017, hail damaged 11 million properties with Oklahoma and Kansas seeing more than half of properties affected, counting this among one of the worst years for hail storm damage. Alarmingly, hail storms seem to be moving and becoming more common in northeastern and western states.
When the skies open and strong thunderstorms begin, many of us are familiar with the sharp pelting sound of hail hitting the roof. Formed when water droplets are lifted up into clouds by strong updrafts, these water droplets fuse together within the lower levels of storm clouds. When the weight becomes too much for winds to hold up, frozen raindrops pelt down to the ground, gathering momentum and falling at speeds as high as 90 miles per hour. Variable winds and updrafts help determine the size and weight of hail stones and in July 2010, the largest recorded hailstone was discovered coming in at 19 inches in circumference and wishing 22 pounds.
As one of the most destructive and unpredictable weather effects, planning for hail can be incredibly difficult for both homeowners and insurance providers. Known to shatter windows and damage roofs, and often at the whim of changing wind patterns, assessing risk and determining damage comes down to individual cases. As the tech behind the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence continues to develop, though, we are given powerful new tools to be ready for these forces of nature.
Until this point, insuring against hail was something of a guessing game compared to other types of risk. The damage is difficult to detect quickly and from there, insurance claims may sit unaddressed for months after the event. Expanding geographic reach of hail frequency is leaving us scrambling for coverage, yet it still remains unpredictable enough for insurance providers to assess the risk and severity. For insurers to offer the right coverage to consumers, identifying risk and potential for hail damage is key. Providers are turning to AI for remote property monitoring, trying to predict bad weather before it gets too close, and recommending safety measures to consumers when it comes to their weatherproofing efforts.
We can’t prevent bad weather from hitting us, but we can be ready to withstand whatever Mother Nature dishes out. Here’s what’s coming for the future of hail damage, how technology is helping us understand weather patterns and notifying us of oncoming threats, and how we can use this data to help predict for future risk.