What's considered hail damage? Do adjusters really know?

Okay guys I’ve got another silly topic out for discussion for you aficionados.

I’ve seen several roofs with round specs about 1/2" to an inch in size. Keep in mind these specs are more closely related to what I’d call bruises. There isn’t a “break” in the asphalt shingle, just a bit darker than the rest of the shingle. Is this hail damage and do you guys sign roofs with these spots? And how do you sell it to an adjuster?
Come on give me your best.

See link posted for assistance with hail damage identification on asphalt roof shingles.


Often times blisters will be mistaken for hail impacts. Yes, bruising should occure and if you can lift up the shingle without breaking feel for the spot in question to see if it’s broke the mat.

Most adjusters want to stay away from the bottom edge and in eye lines and also on the double laminate section.

As far as organic shingles it takes really big hail to break the mat. Seen new fiberglass laminate roofs take a beating when the roof next door with 10 year old organics looks minorly damaged.

Haag has a nice field guide which shows nice pics of verious damage to asphalt shingles.

Most storm chasers try to argue there way to an approval. I’ve learned if there’s really damage and one adjuster will say no more than likely another will be glad to buy the roof.

As with most questions, the most accurate answer is “it depends.” It is a good question though, that doesn’t really have an exact answer. Thus everyone’s opinion can be different, contractors and adjusters alike.

Missing granules do not necessarily equate to hail damage all of the time. The organic shingles from CertainTeed are notorious for prematurely losing granules in a pattern that can easily be mistaken for hail. Blistering is also often times mistaken for hail damage, because at first glance it all can look the same.


  • Mat Breakage: The reason that many adjusters follow the Haag standards, which do not consider a shingle damaged until the mat is broken or cracked leaving it open to water intrusion, is that helps define the difference. Although this can help to define one from the other, it does not necessarily mean that the shingle was not damaged.

  • Examine the Spots with Missing Granules Closely: If the edges surrounding it are rigid, deep, and are found most prominently where the roof receives the most sun, it’s most likely blistering. Also, look for proper venting. If a roof doesn’t have proper venting, overheating inside the attic can induce blistering as well.

On the other hand, hail damage will leave smooth dimples and be found more evenly across the roof.

  • Color of the Exposed Substrate: Check the color of the exposed substrate (where the granules are missing). If it’s a dull grey, it is sign that it has been exposed for long period of time and is either not hail damage, or it is old hail damage.

  • Are The Shingles Organic: If the shingles have an organic mat, they are known to lose granules prematurely. For organic roofs that do have hail damage, it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference. If that is the case, check for bruising…

  • Bruising: If it feels soft and spongy chances are it might be hail. Be careful though because when exposed to the sun, spots without granules tend to be hotter because the substrate is black, which can cause it to feel artificially soft.

  • Collateral Damage: Is there collateral damage around the home. If none of the soft metal on the roof (vents) or around the home show signs of hail damage, take a closer look at the “specs” again.


Personally, I feel that the best way to handle a situation in which hail damage isn’t obvious is to explain to the homeowner what you found and why it may or may not be hail damage. Marginal or not. This way you build trust with the homeowner, get them on your side and can educate them on why it may be a good idea to file the claim.

In a situation like you’ve described, it is most often in the best interests of the homeowner, to contact their insurance company for an inspection. UNLESS, you are certain it is not hail damage. Then the claim could work against the homeowner’s favor.

But when questionable, having the insurance adjuster out will get whatever “is” or “is not” there on record. If the situation changes over the course of the winter and looks much worse come spring, it may be evident that indeed the roof was damaged by hail and there is now proof of what it used to look like.

Also, because homeowners only have up to two years to file a hail claim an insurance adjuster could determine the hail damage found was beyond the two years. Thereby being ‘old damage’ and not covered by the policy. By getting the condition of the roof on record, it can prevent the “old damage” argument.

Again when marginal damage exists, the best way to handle it is to educate the homeowner on all the potential benefits and drawbacks to filing the claim, and allow them to make and educated decision. When followed, regardless of the approval or denial of the claim you are still viewed as a trustworthy professional in the eyes of the homeowner.

Arm yourself with knowledge, be professional, and know when is appropriate to disagree with the adjuster.

Best of Luck…

Where are the homes located? Were they hit by a storm in the past few years? That would be one way to rule out if they may have been affected by a hail storm. Send me a PM and I do a quick search of the block or blocks the homes are on if you would like me to.

Thanks Guys. This helps a lot. Kinda of the answer I expected even so it helps.
I don’t really have and area right now I need weather info on anythingweather but I’ll make sure to hunt you up if I need that information in the future.