There's no getting around the fact that the Front Range sits squarely in what's been called "Hail Alley." It's not just that we get a lot of hailstorms in the summer, but when we get them they tend to dump a lot of hail and it can get pretty big.
(The original Hail Alley is up in Alberta, Canada where the city of Calgary, located just east of the Rocky Mountains just like Denver is, is Canada's hail capital.)
According to the Storm Prediction Center, the Front Range gets an average of 13 large hail events every year, with hail stones ranging in size from quarter sized to golf ball sized. Baseball sized hail isn't unheard of either. The record -- 4 inches, or the size of a grapefruit -- is the record and has fallen on Colorado at least 20 times since records have been kept.
Hail that size is no joke, and the damage it can cause is significant. It can knock the siding off your house, damage the shingles on your roof and damage metal gutters, not to mention what it can do to any cars parked outside. There's a reason that car dealerships in the area have hail sales after big storms pass through, offering discounts on vehicles that have experienced hail-related body damage and been repaired.
“The Front Range, the High Plains just east of the Rocky Mountains definitely leads the country in those types of days. Anywhere between 12 and 15 days a year in that area,” said Paul Schlatter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder told 9News in 2018.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, Colorado ranks #2 nationwide for hail loss claims after Texas, with 380,066 claims filed between 2017 and 2019. The state saw more than 69,000 claims in 2019 alone. What can you do to protect yourself from the risk of hail-related losses?
One of the most significant risks to homes due to hail is the roof, but the problem isn't so much that it happens but that it can be so easy to overlook. Hail exposure can accelerate the aging and weathering of your roof, even if it doesn't cause catastrophic damage right away, but it's not the kind of thing that most homeowners go looking for on a regular basis.
Spend some time inspecting your roof at least once a year. Learn what to look for and how hail damage impacts your specific roofing materials. And, when you see potential damage, call in the experts asap. Hail damage is rarely a one-time event in Colorado and you don't want the potential losses to compound.
Check Your Insurance
Naturally, insurance companies that operate in Colorado are well aware of the state's reputation for hail-related claims and that risk is written into every policy in the state. But not every homeowners insurance policy is the same and some provide better coverage against hail than others. Do you have a limit on how many hail-related claims you can make in a certain period of time? What about pre-existing damage from before you bought your house? Read the fine print of your policy carefully so that you fully understand what you're covered for in terms of hail and how much you have to work with.
The truth is, some materials hold up better in Colorado's hail-centric environment than others, and homeowners are wise to consider durability when doing any construction in the area. Lightweight aluminum siding can easily dent or be knocked loose by large hail, and oversized glass windows can shatter under the right conditions. Taking these risks into consideration during the building or remodeling process can save a lot of headaches and insurance claims down the road.
The truth is, hail is a fact of life on Colorado's Front Range and that isn't going to change anytime soon. The nature of our topography, when cold air coming out of the Rocky Mountains to our west collides with hot summer air over the plains, is the perfect formula for massive hail, and we've all seen the results. That's why preparation and awareness are the best protection against hail-related losses here, along with a good homeowners insurance policy.