FAQ

What are the improvements in Benchmark Web?

We’re excited about the improvements we’ve made with the Verisk Climate team!  Benchmark™ Web is easy to use, and we’ve streamlined your access to reports for hail and lightning plus maps for hail and wind.

New highlights:

  • Wind maps for regions in the U.S. (Wind history reports coming this summer.)
  • Hail history reports now include cause of loss, the date of most severe hail at the property, plus hail severity in proximity to the property.
  • Streamlined access. Whether you use HailSpot, HailExpress, LightningTrax, or Custom Reports, now you’ll go to one place, Benchmark Web, to order and access your reports and maps.
  • If you use Xactimate or XactAnalysis, you can access the hail, wind and lightning reports using Benchmark for XactAnalysis.
  • Canadian hail and wind maps and property-specific reports are coming this summer.
  • Learn more at http://www.veriskclimate.com/BenchmarkApps.html.

Will my account change when WeatherForensics.com moves to Benchmark Web?

There will be a few easy changes simply because your order summary and billing will be sent from Verisk Climate and its parent company Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO). Invoicing/Net30 customers will now receive a monthly invoice from ISO rather than paying directly on receipt of each report.  Current clients of WeatherForensics.com received email messages explaining the changes.

How do I access reports and maps in Benchmark Web?

When the transition occurs, your browser will redirect automatically to the new Benchmark Web site. Your account will be moved automatically, so you’ll be able to order new reports and maps, as well as access your history of purchased reports and maps.

Will my mobile access be transferred too?

Yes your mobile account will be transferred when the Benchmark Mobile app is available. We anticipate the iOS version will be available in Spring 2014, and the Android version in early summer.

Why do I need an account?

Your account is your personal portal to order reports and view any reports you’ve placed in the past. You will need an account before ordering any products.  Registration is free but payment will be required (or you will be billed) upon ordering a report.

How do I change my account information?

In the upper right hand corner, click on the dropdown below your username and you can edit your account information, as well as any saved credit cards you may have on file.

How do I view any reports I’ve ordered in the past?

Once the report has been completed, you can view any report by going to the upper right hand corner of your screen and clicking the drop down under your username.  If the dropdown arrow is not available, you’ll need to return to the map to do this.

What if I can’t remember my password?

When you try to sign in, click on “Forgot Password?” and enter in your username.  It will send an email to the email address associated with the account with instructions on how to reset your password.  If you don’t remember your username, please contact us and we can try to find your account and verify your information to get you back in.

When will I be billed/charged?

You’ll only be billed or charged if you place an order.  If you have placed an order with a credit card, your card will only be charged upon completion of the report.  However, a pre-authorization will be placed on the card at the time of the order, somewhat like what a gas station or restaurant will often do.  If you place an order under an invoicing account, you will receive a bill after the report has been completed.

How do I know how much an order will be?

All HailSpot reports are $9.99.  The cost of LightningTrax orders are calculated at the time of the order, and will be shown on your screen before submitting the order.  HailExpress order pricing is also calculated at the time of the order.  For HailTrax and custom reports, our meteorologists will review all available information and send a price confirmation within a few 2-3 hours after placing your order so you can review the cost as well as all other information.

How quickly are orders available?

HailExpress, LightningTrax, and HailSpot are all available within minutes!  For HailTrax and custom weather orders, it can take up to 3 business days for our meteorologists to gather the data necessary to complete your report.

On HailTrax or a custom weather report, why is there a comment box?

Filling out the comments box is optional, but if you have any information you’d like our meteorologists to know about your request feel free to fill it out.

How do I know if you’ve received my order?

For instant reports such as LightningTrax, HailSpot, and HailExpress, your data will generate through the website.  You’ll also receive an email once the report is complete.  For HailTrax and custom weather orders, our meteorologists will send you a confirmation email with an order number.

Can I view the site on a smartphone or tablet?

Yes!  Full functionality is available through smartphones and tablets.

My company already has an account; do I need to register for my own account?

We recommend an account for each individual.  This is in case we have any questions regarding an order or something with a specific account, then we can talk to the right person.  However, each company may have different rules or expectations when it comes to account management.  If you’re not sure, you may need to consult your manager regarding access within your company.

I signed up for an invoicing/Net30 account but my account status is still pending. When will I be able to order a report?

One of our representatives will review your account status and send an email to let you know of your status, at which point you can then order reports. If you need an expedited status review, please contact us by phone.

What makes your products the best?

We have expert meteorologists with over 100 combined years of experience with hail detection constantly working on making our detection techniques the best on the market.  We were also the pioneers of hail detection and our reports are the leading industry standard.  Many other products only use the human observations of hail, which are only points on the globe.  We actually give you the area where the hailstorm occurred.

Our products are backed by high technology leader, Weather Decision Technologies, Inc., the leader in privatized weather information.

What are the features of HailExpress?

The all new HailExpress is loaded with familial and new features! Take a look a the list below which outlines just a few:

  • Improved mapping and usability. Also works on tablets, e.g. iPad. Interactive map-based ordering process ensures that you get what you need
  • New order process provides better service to customers should questions arise or when assistance is needed
  • No cumbersome mapping plug-ins required. Google Earth plug-in is no longer utilized
  • HailExpress HD includes 14 levels of hail size ranging from 0.75″ to 4.0″ diameter in 0.25″ diameter increments
  • Improved printing for HailExpress. One button printing is fully integrated within the map viewer application. No more “hoop jumping” (mulitple steps) to produce a printed map
  • You can now buy HailExpress for metro areas rather than a full state for the reduced price of $200/day – Or subscribe!
  • Improved hail detection and diagnosis technology rooted in research by atmospheric scientists at the National Severe Storms Laboratory
  • As always, multi-radar identification of hailstorms throughout the CONUS
  • Unique post-processing of hail detection data by WDT to add coherency to final hail swaths

How do I subscribe to HailExpress?

Simply choose a date with hail in the state/metro you want to subscribe to, then choose the start date of your subscription, as well as the length of the subscription.  The price will automatically be calculated and you can submit payment at the time of the order.  For multi-state regions or non-standard subscription lengths, please contact us and we can set up your subscription.

Can I also purchase HailExpress one day at a time?

Yes, for one day, one state is $295, and pricing for one metro area is $200.

Is HailExpress intended to prove it hailed at an address?

No, a meteorologist would need to make an address-specific assessment through a HailTrax report.  HailExpress is intended to give an idea of general hailfall in a region.

How do I access my purchased HailExpress maps?

Whether you have purchased a subscription or just one day, click on the HailExpress tab on the map, and any purchased states/metros are located under “Purchased”.  You can also search by state for your purchased maps by clicking on the state name, then clicking “View Purchased Days” which will then show you all days you’ve bought where hail has occurred.

Why does my purchased HailExpress state include more than just my state?

States are broken down by boxes that surround the entire geographic extent of the state, which means in many cases, you will get a much larger area than just the state, depending on the state’s shape.

What if I want a HailExpress area that goes over a state’s border?

For many metropolitan areas that extend across two states, you can purchase the metro region.  Otherwise, if there is a region we don’t currently show for purchase through the site, please contact us and we may be able to create a custom region that meets your needs for a customized price.

What is the difference between HailTrax, HailSpot, and HailExpress?

HailSpot helps to find a potential date of loss at an address if the date of loss isn’t already known.

HailTrax is also specific to the address, but for time periods of less than a week, and is examined by an expert meteorologist.

HailExpress is intended to provide general areas of hail fall on a particular day or during a subscription time.

I don’t know what day it hailed, how can I find out?

For an address – HailSpot allows you to enter in the address of interest and a date range, and will return a list of potential hail dates at the address.  From there, you can order a HailTrax report for more verification.

For a general area – the HailExpress product will show you any days with hail in the state/metro you’re interested in.  It will also tell you the largest hail analyzed within the view, and will show any observation of hail called into the National Weather Service.  If you want to purchase that day, or begin a subscription, you can click on “buy” to bring up the order form.

Where are hail reports available?

We can provide hail reports for any location in the continental US.  If you need a report in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or parts of Canada or Mexico close to the US border, please contact us and we’ll let you know of availability.

Why is HailSpot $9.99 for several years, but HailTrax and HailExpress are $295 for a single day?

HailSpot is based off the automated HailExpress product and only provides a list of potential hail dates.  It is not closely reviewed by a meteorologist, and no hailswaths are displayed on the map.  For a more detailed assessment of what actually happened at the address, HailTrax is the way to go but comes at a higher cost due to the hands-on approach to report output.  To determine general hailfall areas, HailExpress might be a better bet.

What are the benefits of getting a HailExpress subscription vs. a single day at a time?

Since HailExpress updates in nearly realtime, you can get an idea for where hail has fallen while it’s still falling, instead of waiting until after the storms have already all passed and you’ve heard about them from other sources.

Do you provide alerts when my area has hail?

Please contact us (link) or call us to get information about how to receive alerts.

How do I print my HailExpress map?

Zoom in on the area you want to print out, then click on the printer icon above the dates.  This will open a printer friendly window that will display the map, the swaths, the legend, and the time.  Then you can print as you normally would.

How can I overlay the HailExpress analysis in Google Earth?

Click on the “KML” icon above the dates.  This will open the KMZ file that you can save and display in Google Earth.

Can I look at the wind and tornado reports as well on HailExpress?

In addition to the hail reports, the wind and tornado reports can also be displayed.

Does HailExpress also show windstorms?

HailExpress will only show the reports of severe wind or wind damage if you choose to turn them on.  However, windstorms are impossible to analyze in the same way we analyze hailstorms.

Why isn’t every day showing up on my HailExpress list?

Only dates where hail 0.75” or greater was analyzed within your chosen region and chosen date range will be displayed.  Therefore, no hail was detected on any dates that don’t show up in your list.

Why are there hail reports outside of a hailswath?

Hail reports are called in by trained spotters, broadcast media, and other sources, and posted by the National Weather Service.  When a report is called in, the spotter provides their location.  Unless the spotter provides detailed information about their location, the National Weather Service places the report in the center of town, regardless of where the hail report actually occurred.  For example, if a spotter calls in a report from far northeast Dallas, the National Weather Service will place this report in downtown Dallas, even though that location may not have even received rainfall.  It’s also possible that information about the hail report was incorrect, whether it was the location or the size of the hail, and a correction was later issued.

Why do you show hail in an area with no observations, or smaller observations than you otherwise indicate?

The hailswaths are drawn independent of the hail observations called in.  If no observations appear on the map, it doesn’t mean the hail didn’t happen, just that no one called it in.  Also, if the hail observations are smaller than what our hailswaths detected, it doesn’t mean those were the largest hailstones in those areas.

How do I zoom in or out on my map?

Either use the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in or out, or the zoom in +/- buttons in the upper right hand corner of the map.

Why does HailExpress from before February 2012 look different?

We launched 14-contour HailExpress in February 2012.  Before that, only two hail sizes were analyzed – 0.75-2”, and 2”+.

Can I get HailExpress for Hawaii or Alaska?

No, HailExpress is not available here, but if you need hail verification in either of these areas, please contact us, and we can check data availability and find a solution for your needs.

Why do my HailSpot/HailExpress and HailTrax not match?

HailSpot is based off the HailExpress product.  HailExpress is generated from computer algorithms.  HailTrax is examined and analyzed by a meteorologist, and “cleaned up” based on a specific address.  However, for the most part, all the hail products are generally in agreement.

Can I get a HailTrax that isn’t for a specific address?

Of course!  However, if you just need a general overview of hail and are looking for something interactive and available immediately, we’d recommend a HailExpress.

Why can’t I run a HailTrax for more than 7 days?

Since a meteorologist examines and analyzes the data, a HailTrax of over a week would be time-consuming and not very cost-efficient to you, the customer.

How far back can I run a HailTrax report?

Definitely any time after 2001.  Reports prior to that can be ordered, but before proceeding, our meteorologists will check data availability.

What if I need a HailSpot prior to 2003?

Unfortunately, since HailSpot relies on our HailExpress archive which only goes back to 2003, options are limited.  We can, however, provide a custom assessment based on the reports called into the National Weather Service.

Will these reports hold up in court?

We stand behind any site-specific report reviewed by a meteorologist.  Our meteorologists have given depositions and testimonies, and HailTrax reports have been permissible in court.

If my storm happened at 3 AM, what day of HailExpress do I need to buy?

HailExpress runs from 7 AM CDT to 7 AM CDT, as this is the “convective day”.  So if the storm occurred at 3 AM on May 26, you’ll actually need to purchase May 25.

I have a HailTrax report for a specific address, and now I’m not sure whether or not to pay the claim.

We can’t make a decision for you about whether or not to pay a claim.  We only provide weather data and let you make that decision.

How accurate are LightningTrax™ reports and LightningExpress™ Service?

LightningTrax reports and LightningExpress Service are 95% accurate in reporting the presence (one or more strokes detected within a 1 mile radius) or absence (zero strikes detected within a 5 mile radius) of lightning.

What is a LightningTrax report?

LightningTrax is an address and date(s) specific verification of the occurrence of lightning on the earth’s surface. LightningTrax reports make use of the precision performance of the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network (ENTLN™) to accurately validate the presence or absence of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.

How much does a LightningTrax report cost?

A basic LightningTrax reports sells for $95 and includes the written report for up to a 72 hour search period, a print-out of lightning strike data and a full color map.  Please see our Pricing page for full details.

How soon will I get my LightningTrax report after ordering?

LightningTrax reports are available for any location around the world, but our system can only accept US addresses.

How far back in history can I get a LightningTrax report?

The ENTLN archive data are available from May 15, 2009 forward.

I entered one mile as my desired radius on my LightningTrax order and the report shows a 5 mile radius was searched. Why is this?

This indicates that no lightning strikes were present within a mile, so our system automatically expands to a 5 mile radius to let you know if there may have been other strikes in the area.

I’ve purchased a LightningTrax report which shows no lightning detected within 5 miles of the address. The property owner insists there was a storm. What do you suggest?

Lightning and thunder can be seen and heard from significant distances.  The property owner may have observed distant lightning or a variety of cloud-to-cloud lightning.  Lightning from further distances may also cause power surges.  We also suggest double checking your facts as to the date of the search and the address of the property in question.  If there is still a dispute, we can check with our lightning network provider to see if there were any outages.

What if my lightning claim goes to court?

We stand behind every lightning report we produce.  If you need technical expertise to assist in a legal case, see our experts page or contact us for phone consultation, deposition and court appearances. Hourly fees quoted upon request. We have 4 Certified Consulting Meteorologists on staff and available for deposition. Our reports are 100% litigation tested.

Do you have an expert witness or CCM (Certified Consulting Meteorologist) on staff that can assist me in a legal process?

Yes, we have many qualified meteorologists, including four Certified Consulting Meteorologists on staff.  Hourly fees quoted upon request.

I‘ve obtained a lightning report from your competitor and the strikes don’t match up exactly. Why is this?

Most times, lightning reports from different lightning networks will be highly similar; however, any given lightning strike may be measured slightly differently.  An “apples-to-apples” comparison would be to compare the binary results (presence or absence of lightning) of a given lightning report from each network. While the network WDT utilizes, ENTLN, is the newest and most state-of-art lightning detection network, customers of lightning verification reports should not make the assumption that ENTLN output is ground truth and the other network is “inaccurate” – and vice versa.  Also, if one report shows more strikes than the other, that does not indicate the one with more strikes is more accurate.

My organization needs to verify large quantities of lightning claims. What products do you have to meet this need?

For verification of 100+ claims per year, we recommend our LightningExpress Service.  LightningExpress allows unlimited access to LightningTrax reports, all for one set annual fee. Contact us at 405-801-3901 or email us for details and a quote.

I have a LightningTrax report for a specific address, and now I’m not sure whether or not to pay the claim.

We can’t make a decision for you about whether or not to pay a claim.  We can only provide weather data and let you make that decision.

What is the price for Custom Reports?

The custom report pricing is $150/hour of effort.  When an order is placed, our meteorologists will review your request and determine the estimated amount of effort to complete the report.  The minimum amount is $300.  This price is typical for reports with time periods up to a few days.  Prices increase as the time period searched increases.  However, based on the request, some may take more effort than others.  If the meteorologist has any questions or concerns, they will contact you prior to sending a price confirmation.  Otherwise, if the request appears pretty standard, you may receive a price confirmation without a meteorologist calling you.  If you have questions regarding the pricing or what the report would entail, please call us and we’d be more than happy to answer your questions.

I need to determine if wind caused damage on a certain date. What can you do?

Our meteorologists will take a look at all available wind sensors in the area – National Weather Service or other networks, to make the best estimation of wind near a location.  If the nearest wind sensor is too far away, we will notify you and give you the option of proceeding with the report.  We also look at any reports of high winds or wind damage called into the National Weather Service in the area of your address.

Can I get a wind report that looks like your hail reports?

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine wind speed over a geographic extent in the same way we display hailswaths.  Scientifically speaking, when looking at radar data, hail actually falls to the ground, whereas wind doesn’t.  Radar data may show high winds aloft that don’t reach the surface, and vice versa.  For large scale wind storms that may affect an entire state (such as hurricanes), it’s much easier to assess wind.  For localized events such as thunderstorms, it becomes nearly impossible.

What if I need something more specific than the nearest sensor and need to know the exact wind speed at the address?

For additional fees, we can go more in depth and look at detailed radar data.  However, as with all weather data, it’s difficult to be exact, as we’re limited by the available data.

What can you do for hurricanes?

We can provide maps showing the peak wind gust and maximum sustained winds.  These maps are typically analyzed shortly after a hurricane has stopped affecting land.  Please see a list of storms that are currently available for purchase today.

What kind of format do the wind reports come in?

For individual wind report summaries, a PDF report will be provided with a meteorologist’s opinion and a table containing the available wind data.  For hurricane wind maps where no summary is involved, we’ll provide maps as PDFs, PNGs, or KMLs.

What would I get from any other type of weather report that hasn’t already been mentioned?

We would use the nearest weather sensors to the location of interest to paint the best picture of what may have occurred at the location during that time.  If there is additional information you want the meteorologist to know that could help in customizing the report to your needs, please include a note in the comments section or contact us.

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