How does business insurance cover wind and hail damage?

Insureon staff
Insurance claims related to wind and hail damage are the third most common among small business policyholders.
Hail falling on a roof.

Strong winds and hailstorms can cause significant damage in very little time to your business property, resulting in costly repairs and disrupting your business. Gale-force winds can push trees onto buildings. Hail can shatter windows and damage your exterior.

Having the right small business insurance in place can help your business recover after a storm. It’s also important to protect your property from severe weather events. Let’s take a look at how you can protect your business from wind and hail damage, both physically and financially.

"Wind and hail damage account for about 15% of small business insurance claims."

How expensive is wind and hail damage?

Wind and hail damage could be more common than you think. In fact, wind and hail damage account for about 15% of small business insurance claims, according to an analysis of claims data by insurance provider The Hartford. The average cost of a claim was $26,000.

What insurance policies cover wind and hail damage?

Commercial property insurance, which is sometimes referred to as business hazard insurance, may cover wind and hail damage claims, but as with anything in the insurance world, the details are everything.

  • In much of the country, coverage for hail and windstorm damage is standard on a commercial property insurance policy.
  • In coastal areas exposed to hurricanes, wind and hail damage are often excluded from a standard commercial property insurance policy. Small businesses have to purchase separate coverage for these exposures. You might be able to add wind and hail coverage to your existing property insurance, though it would likely come with a separate deductible.

You might also consider a business owner’s policy (BOP) that bundles general liability insurance with commercial property insurance. A BOP is usually less expensive than if each of these policies were bought separately.

Business interruption insurance is another policy that can help your small business recover from a temporary shutdown that is tied to a commercial property insurance claim. However, this typically only applies when your business has sustained physical damage, such as from a storm, and has been forced to close for a set period of time.

Commercial auto insurance covers legal bills, medical expenses, and property damage if a business vehicle is involved in an accident. Comprehensive coverage includes damage from vandalism, fire, and other causes. Check with your insurance company to make sure that wind and hail coverage are included.

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Percentage deductibles in small business property insurance

While most insurance deductibles are for a fixed amount, deductibles for wind and hail damage are often based on a percentage of the total damage. You would have to first pay a certain percentage of the total damages cost before your insurance kicks in.

For carriers that require this kind of deductible for wind and hail coverage, it is usually 1% or 5% of the total property damage cost. In some hurricane-prone regions, such as the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, the deductible percentage may be higher in the case of a “named” storm, such as a hurricane.

As with any type of small business insurance, be sure to consult with your agent to make sure you understand what kind of coverage your policy offers and what you’re expected to do in the event of a claim.

What are the best ways to protect business property from wind and hail damage?

Ensuring you have adequate small business insurance in place will help your business recover in the aftermath of a storm. But it’s also essential that you take steps to protect your property before a severe weather event. From regularly inspecting your roof to securing equipment and valuables, the following actions will help you reduce the risk of damage to your business in the event of a storm.

1. Inspect your roof

Examine your building’s roof for damage after storms, or annually in regions that are less prone to storms. Replace any worn materials or other weak areas to ensure that leaks don’t occur during future storms. Check flashing (a type of sheet metal used for waterproofing) and gutters and clean out any debris that may be blocking drainage. Remove branches or leaves that may have accumulated during prior storms.

2. Install impact-resistant windows

Impact-resistant glass has been specially treated to help prevent shattering and to provide an extra barrier to safeguard your building from severe weather. While it’s still possible for it to break, it’s less likely to shatter completely, offering better protection from flying glass and debris during a hurricane or hailstorm.

3. Secure equipment and valuables

If you live in an area prone to strong winds or hail, keep an eye on the weather forecast so that you can protect your valuables before a storm hits. Ensure any high-value items are in a safe and secure area, stored up high and away from windows. Any outdoor equipment should be securely fastened so it’s not lost or turned into a projectile during a storm.

4. Keep your employees safe

In the event of a storm, safety is of the utmost concern. Stay away from windows and take shelter in the safest part of your property. If your building doesn’t have a designated storm shelter, have employees take shelter in an area devoid of windows, such as a bathroom or break room.

Prepare an emergency plan and communicate it with employees so that they’ll know what to expect. Practice an emergency drill, if possible, so that everyone will be prepared if weather conditions are threatening your safety.

If you’re in an area with a high risk of windstorms, review your policy language carefully with your Insureon agent to ensure you will be protected in the event of damage from a serious storm.

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Desiree DeNunzio, Contributing Writer

Desiree is a writer and editor with a passion for bringing relevant content to readers. She's edited and written content for online and print publications such as Wired magazine, PCWorld, CNET News, and more.

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