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Friday, 27 November 2015

Best Practices for Documenting a Hail Storm during a Catastrophic Event

Mike Koch (Kitchener, ON)

Hailstorms are experienced in most parts of the world, at some point in time. Hail is formed in strong thunderstorm clouds when an intense updraft is combined with high liquid water content. These hailstones can increase in size as more water freezes onto their surface  ̶  ranging from half a centimetre in diameter to the size of a grapefruit. The intensity of a hailstorm will have considerable impact on the degree of damage that they cause, especially to cars and vehicles, aircrafts, buildings, crops and livestock animals as well. More often than not, it is the roofs of homes and buildings that bear the brunt of hailstorm damage, causing cracks in buildings and leaks in roofs.

Due to the intensity of storms attributed to some catastrophic weather events, onsite catastrophe (CAT) adjusters are likely to encounter the effects of hailstorms. As roofs are constantly exposed to the elements and are subject to wear and tear, the use of proper documentation practices to identify and capture the true physical damage effects of a hailstorm can greatly assist in coverage determination. Captured below are some best practices in documenting the physical damage impact of hailstorms during a catastrophic event.  

  • Secure photos of all elevations or sides of the building.
  • Upon climbing onto the roof, take a photo of the roof pitch with a pitch gauge placed along the bottom edge of the roof. There are Smartphone apps that you can utilize to assist in this manner.
  • Using a shingle gauge to measure the thickness of the shingle can assist in identifying the weight and quality of material.  
  • Lift up the corner of the bottom row of shingles and take a photo to show the type (or absence) of underlay. This will help in determining the existence of an eave starter.
  • Once on the roof, carefully examine all areas of the roof, marking a square (10’ x 10’ area) with chalk. Circle the hail hits with the same chalk. Just outside of the square, mark the number of hail hits with an “H.”  For example:  for a 10’ x 10’ square where there have been eight hail hits, record “H = 8” and take a photo of this along with the square.
  • Take numerous close-up photos of shingle damage – especially the impacts that have damaged the matting (backing) of the shingle.
  • Take photos of the roof and the valleys. This will help you in determining whether there is a metal valley or if it is woven with shingles. It is recommended that you take photos of all soft metals and damages.
  • Take photos of all vent stacks, roof vents, satellite dishes, eavestroughs, fascia, cupolas, weathervanes, etc. By doing so, you will be able to identify all of the building components of the roof.
  • When siding is involved, carefully photograph all areas of damage, with numerous close-up views. It is helpful to layout a measuring tape in alignment with the siding, whether it be horizontal or vertical, to accurately capture the profile.
  • Engaging in discussions with the policyholder regarding the age of the roof and the siding, as well as the make/supplier, will assist you in determining like kind and quality of material if needed.

      “Hail.” Basic Planet. http://www.basicplanet.com/hail (Nov. 18, 2015).

“Hail.” Public Safety Canada. http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/mrgnc-mngmnt/ntrl-hzrds/hl-eng.aspx (Nov. 18, 2015).

This blog post has been written by Mike Koch, National Property & Catastrophe Manager, Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc.

Pat Van Bakel, President & CEO, Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc. is on CatIQ's Canadian Catastrophe Conference's 2016 Advisory Committee and will be a panelist on the Claims Executives panel during the conference.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

National Strategy for Disaster Resilience- Australia

Jim Abraham (Halifax, NS)

I just spent a three-week vacation in Australia and New Zealand.  Much of that time was visiting friends and colleagues from the Bureau of Meteorology and the New Zealand MetService, discussing the challenges and opportunities of ensuring the work that we do is relevant to the needs of society.

Extreme weather events are quite frequent in Australia; a topic frequented by my weather colleagues down there. During our visit, there were several severe weather outbreaks, accompanied by tornadoes and flash floods.  An anomalously warm spell in early October had resulted in earlier than normal moisture deficits, and the bushfire season was already underway. 

No surprise, that Australia to be extremely vulnerable to climate change and associated extreme weather events.  For example:
  •          A substantial proportion of the population resides in relatively few urban areas.  Cities like Melbourne and Sydney continue to grow rapidly
  •          Much of this same urban population is located relatively near the coast
  •          A substantial amount of their water resources and associated agricultural lands are within one large river basin (Murray-Darling)
During my conversations, I was particularly interested in any national coordination initiatives underway to help reduce these vulnerabilities.  Certainly the Bureau of Meteorology is examining a strategy that will allow it to address these challenges in a cost-effective way.  However, I was very interested in the fact that the Australian and New Zealand governments are cooperating on a National Strategy for Disaster Resilience

I was particularly pleased that this recognizes that all sectors of society need to work together, including business, all levels of government, NGO’s, academia and individuals.  The identified priority areas of action are areas that I feel are essential for us in Canada, especially establishment of partnerships and community engagement.  Furthermore, in Australia-New Zealand, there is a recognition that the importance of infrastructure investments.  Certainly, given our recently elected government’s priority on infrastructure, it would be nice to see appropriate investment that contributes to sustainability and resilience.  A recent report on the progress in implementing the strategy includes a number of case studies:  http://www.ag.gov.au/EmergencyManagement/About-us-emergency-management/Documents/NSDR-Progress-to-date.PDF 

I’ll be keeping in touch with folks to benefit from their learning and progress. I would like to see Canada take advantage of the efforts undertaken by our colleagues “Down-Under”, and develop our own Canadian National Disaster Resiliency Strategy.

This blog post has been written by Jim Abraham, Director, Canadian Climate Forum & former Director General of Weather Environmental Monitoring, Meteorological Service of Canada, Environment Canada. Jim is on CatIQ's Canadian Catastrophe Conference's 2016 Advisory Committee and will be speaking at two sessions during the conference.