Hail protection 101

Protect your car and home from hail damage

When it comes to weather events, hailstorms are some of the most dramatic. They are also becoming more frequent and costly. Hail of 2 inches or greater in size struck the United States on 141 days last year — the highest number of annual days in two decades. In 2023, the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center’s Annual Severe Weather Report Summary reported 6,962 hail events in 2023 (compared to 4,426 in 2022), costing billions of dollars.


Hailstorms mostly occur in the stretch of months from late spring through summer and are most common in a states where strong thunderstorms are frequent, including Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas. According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Texas and Nebraska experienced the most hail events in 2023.


In the thunderheads that produce hailstones, minute ice crystals are carried into the cloud’s upper reaches on strong updrafts, where they encounter supercooled water droplets, which freeze to their surfaces. When they grow heavy enough, they begin to fall through the cloud until they’re caught by an updraft strong enough to carry them aloft again. The process repeats, with the hailstone acquiring more and more layers until at last its mass drops it from the cloud to the ground. The stones can be anywhere from pea-sized to the size of a shotput or larger. The largest hailstone on record was 8 inches in diameter. The bigger they are, the faster they fall. Hailstones that are baseball-sized or larger can fall at speeds of up to 100 mph.


There’s no such thing as a “hail-proof” home or car, but there are some precautions you can take to minimize damage and potential harm to you, your property, and your family.


  • Inspect your roof, gutters, and windows. If you find any damage or weaknesses and repair accordingly.
  • Consider installing impact-resistant shingles. There are 18 types of roof shingles, but for most homeowners the choice comes down to one of four types. Class 1 shingles are basically a simple layer of asphalt and surface granules over a base of fiberglass; Class 2 shingles (also known as “architectural shingles”) are laminated in the manufacturing process to strengthen them. Class 3 (”premium” shingles) and class 4 (“performance” shingles) are further reinforced, and are considered to be “impact resistant,” with Class 4 lending your roof the most protection. As you might expect, the higher the level of protection, the higher the expense.
  • Keep your trees and shrubbery well-trimmed. Remove any weak or dead branches. Trimming the branches to eliminate overhang also reduces the load dead leaves place on your gutters.


  • Move outdoor items inside. Items such as patio furniture, toys, bikes, and garbage cans should be in a covered area. Hailstones can damage them, and they can cause additional damage if they become airborne.
  • Get your car, RV, boats, or other vehicles under cover. If a structure with a hard cover is not an option, there are a number of custom covers that are made to fit your make and model of vehicle, which are advertised as hail resistant. Securing a tarp or blanket over your vehicles is another option.



  • Adjust your driving. Turn on your low beams, drop your speed, and allow three times the usual distance to avoid a rear-end collision.
  • Don’t stop under an overpass. You’ve probably heard this well-intentioned advice in the past, but stopping underneath an overpass is actually extremely dangerous for two reasons. First, it may cause gridlock, which may lead to an accident or block other drivers (such as ambulances) from passing. Second, hailstorms are often the byproduct of severe weather such as tornadoes. Strong winds essentially funnel into overpasses carrying debris that can easily cause serious injuries or death.
  • Drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If a gas station is the closest, a gas station is where you should go.
  • Pull over and park. If you’re on a rural highway and are not near any shelter, pull over in a parking lot or empty space and park. Avoid ditches due to possible flooding. If you can, angle your car so the hail pelts your windshield, which is more strongly reinforced than the other windows.
  • Stay in your car with your seat belt on. Put your head below the windows and cover your head and hands with a blanket or your floormat.


  • Shelter pets and farm animals. Even small hail can seriously or fatally injure them.
  • Close all windows and doors. After shutting them, stay away from them in case of shattered glass. Remain on the lower floor and close any blinds or curtains.
  • Shut off electricity in case of a power surge. Do not use candles to light your home, as they could be knocked over. Use a flashlight instead.


Once you know the coast is clear, follow these steps.

  • Take photos and/or videos. Gather photos of damaged property and of any remaining hailstones. Use another object to compare the hailstone to as a reference, or physically measure it.
  • Clean up. Remove debris from your yard or car and address any leaks in your home.
  • Notify your insurance agent. Your agent will help you through the process of recovery. Having photos will make filing your claim a much simpler process.
  • Keep receipts from repair purchases. This could be from the company that fixes your roof or the auto shop that replaces the hood of your car. Save a picture of the receipt on your phone for backup.

Sources: weather.com; Policygenius.com; NOAA; bobvila.com; IKO Industries; Insurance Journal

The information included here was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions, or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Information obtained from or via Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company should not be used as the basis for legal advice and should be confirmed with alternative sources.

Updated 5/2024