Hailstorm damage and your horticultural business

Added October 21, 2022
Hail and Ruler

When you own a business in the horticultural industry, seeing a hailstorm in the forecast will certainly get your attention. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual severe weather 2022 report, there were 4,211 reports of hail in the United States from January 1 through September 20, with 47 out of 50 states reporting hailstorms. That’s nearly 450 more incidents than we saw in all of 2021, and 2022 isn’t over yet. 

Just as there are “tornado alleys” in the U.S., hailstorms occur more frequently in certain geographical locations. NOAA points out that Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming usually have the most hailstorms annually. The region where these three states meet—known as “hail alley”—averages seven to nine hail days per year. 

And as NASA’s global climate change models predict, hailstorms may become more intense due to the warming climate and increasingly severe weather occurring as a result. So if you own a horticultural business anywhere in the U.S., you’ll likely have to deal with hail damage at some point. 

Before a hailstorm hits, be prepared

Are you prepared for the outcome of a severe hailstorm? You can’t control the weather, much less the impact of an unexpected hailstorm, but you can prepare your business and your employees for the aftermath.

Here are several ways you can help mitigate your losses as hailstorms become a more frequent, unwelcomed guest.

  • Keep an ongoing, detailed inventory of your plants and crops so you can review it if you experience damage during a storm.
  • Ensure your structures, bracing, and coverings are secure.
  • Inspect for dry or weak tree limbs that could fall on your structures.
  • Remove debris from downspouts and other drainage systems to help water flow away from your structures, especially if freezing temperatures could glaze over your sidewalks and walkways, increasing the risk of slips and falls.
  • Have materials on hand to quickly repair damage once it’s safe to do so.
  • When a severe storm is forecasted, move your outdoor items—including equipment and crops, if possible—under sturdy structures to help avoid damage.
  • Keep your insurer’s contact information readily available and be prepared to report damage to your crops, equipment, or facility.

Hail damage to anticipate

Hail isn’t limited to damaging your crops outside or within your greenhouse structures, it can do significant damage to your property as a whole. Even with the most impact-modified cladding (coverings), hail can crack or penetrate through—potentially damaging the interior shade system, controls, and equipment.

In addition to your crops, hail can damage: 

  • Delivery vehicles
  • Irrigation and fertilization equipment
  • Roofs, siding, and windows
  • HVAC equipment
  • Hand-held machinery, such as chainsaws 
  • Smart technology controls
  • Lighting systems
  • Robotic equipment

Solid ice pellets aren’t the only danger during a hailstorm. These storms often are accompanied by other destructive weather, like high winds, heavy rains, and tornadoes. 

A disaster related to a weather, climate, or water hazard occurred nearly every day during the past 50 years, according to a report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 2021. And the number of weather-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over that 50-year period—driven by climate change, more extreme weather, and improved reporting. 

Steps to take after a hailstorm

Once the hailstorm and related weather system has passed, it’s time to assess the damage.

  • For their safety, block employees and customers from affected areas. Keeping the areas clear will also help you accurately assess the damage.
  • Take photos and videos of the damage from various angles, as well as the hailstones—when possible. In-depth documentation can help speed up the claims process.
  • Contact your insurer to start the claims process. Your insurance provider can help you quickly find a local contractor so they can ensure structures are secure and mitigation efforts to protect your plants and crops can begin.

Insurance for hailstorm damage

Hailstorms can’t be prevented, but commercial property insurance is one of the best ways to protect your company from losses related to hail damage. Your commercial property insurance can be customized based on your buildings, equipment, inventory, income, and other exposures.

Depending on your policy, coverage can apply to the equipment contained within your buildings or greenhouses, including:

  • Boilers
  • Generators
  • Coolers
  • Benching systems 
  • Irrigation equipment
  • Heat retention curtain systems
  • Environmental control computers

You may also receive reimbursement for lost business income as a result of damages to your property. Work with your insurance provider to make sure you have the proper commercial business liability coverage.

Select a provider who knows your industry

An insurance provider who’s focused on the particular risk exposures and unique characteristics of businesses within your industry can give you peace of mind. With more than 135 years serving the horticultural industry, we understand the impact a hailstorm can have on your business. We can work quickly through our cultivated relationships with local contractors in your area to help you get your business up and running again.

You also want to be sure your company and employees can identify and help mitigate hazards. Through our safety services, we can tailor a loss control program that can help your business prepare for severe weather events. 

If you have any questions about insuring your business or would like to review your current policy, contact us today or complete this simple form to request a quote.

Related links:

If you suffer hail damage, you need to file a claim. Follow these five tips when reporting a claim to help get your claim started, processed, and settled more quickly.

Learn about two other critical types of business insurance coverage that play major roles in helping protect your horticultural company. 

Preparing for severe weather should be part of your safety plan. Learn why taking a proactive safety approach can help improve your business operations and your bottom line.

Hortica® property and casualty coverages are underwritten, and loss control services are provided, by Florists’ Mutual Insurance Company, Florists’ Insurance Service, Inc., Edwardsville, IL, or affiliated members of the Sentry Insurance Group. For more information, visit hortica.com. Policies, coverages, benefits, and discounts are not available in all states. See policy for complete coverage details.

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