Brace for impact

Insurance commissioner, agents shed light on hail damage
By: 
CHARLIE DENISON
Reporter
Friday, May 31, 2019
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Matt Rosendale

As storm season approaches, Central Montana Insurance agent Ray Pryor wants people to know there is help if they need it, be it for hail or other storm-related coverage.

“This area certainly has a history of hail,” Pryor said. “Roy and Winifred have really been hammered, and Lewistown gets quite a bit as well. The really damaging hail seems to happen about every 20 years, causing a lot of homes to need new roofs.”

Reflecting on storms of the past, Pryor said the worst he’s seen here occurred in the fall of 1991. 

“There was hail in the ditches,” Pryor said.

Hail may not be frequent, but it happens, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. And when it does, those affected are in need of assistance.

As far as damage is concerned, Pryor said it all boils down to the condition of the shingles.

“If the integrity of the shingle is damaged, then it has to be replaced,” Pryor said. 

One of the only ways to stop hail from damaging the home, Pryor added, is by having trees in front of the home to block it. 

Chance is also a factor.

“There are a lot of extenuating circumstances with hail,” Pryor said. “There just are.”

Pryor encourages those who suffer hail damage of any kind to report it to their insurance agent, contact the company and have an adjustor come and look at it.

“There are some who know their contractor and prefer to have their contractor look at it first, but my recommendation would be to start with the adjustor,” he said. “Adjustors are not just accountable to the company and the insured, but they are also accountable to the state insurance commission. These people know what they are doing. In Montana, they’ve had a lot of experience adjusting hail losses.”

 

‘Be wary’

Matt Rosendale, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, said his office is happy to work with the people of Central Montana anytime they have questions.

“It’s important to us that the people of Montana know where to go after a big storm has rolled in,” said Rosendale, “and it’s important they get a rapid response.”

Rosendale, who attended a hail board meeting in Lewistown last month, said his office is trying to tackle any and all issues dealing with hail damage and how to make sure those affected get what they need. 

It’s also important for Rosendale to protect consumers from fraud.

“Right now we are trying to make people more conscious of things they can do to keep from having problems with storm chasers,” Rosendale said. “For one, make sure you get quotes in writing and make sure you negotiate directly with your insurance company.”

Like Pryor, Rosendale also recommends people speak with an insurance company before starting a process with contractors.

Rosendale also encouragers contractors and insurance agencies to be wary, as handshakes aren’t always what they used to be.

“You want to make sure someone has a damaged roof before you start giving him or her money,” he said.

According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Felix Castro, there is a chance of thunderstorms throughout next week but the chances of hail are low.

“Heavy rain storms and gusty winds are predicted, but there is no threat of hail at this time,” said Castro. “If there is any hail it will be small…and brief.”

Pryor said he is encouraged by Rosendale’s presence at recent hail board meetings.

“We want the insurance commissioners’ office to be responsive to consumer needs,” he said. “I think it’s important the insurance commissioner reach out to various communities in the state.

For more information on hail damage, call Rosendale’s office at (406) 444-2040.

“We’re more than happy to answer any questions,” Rosendale said.

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