The one sure thing about the weather is that it is always unpredictable. Severe storms can wreak havoc on your house, car, and city. A car can easily be pummeled with unsightly dents if a storm unleashes a barrage of hail.
The cost to repair hail damage can be shocking because the damage commonly spreads across the entire vehicle. The good news is that hail damage may be covered under your car insurance policy.
Hail Damage Coverage
If you purchased liability-only coverage on your car insurance policy, you would not be covered for hail damage. Liability coverage only protects other people from damage and expenses that you cause, not you or your car.
Hail, storm damage and other natural acts are covered under car insurance policies that have listed comprehensive coverage on the vehicle. Comprehensive coverage needs to be purchased before damage occurs.
It’s essential to buy comprehensive coverage well before you think you’ll need it. If you don't, it might be too late to prevent you from paying for hail damage. Insurers sometimes prevent individuals from purchasing last minute car insurance coverage right before an inclement weather event is predicted to occur.
Otherwise, savvy individuals would always wait to purchase coverage until the last minute and cancel it after the storm passes. The amount that insurance companies would have to pay out regularly would be astronomical.
For example, even though hail is rare in a hurricane, insurance carriers put a hold, or "moratorium," on adding comprehensive coverage when a hurricane is projected to make landfall. If you cannot get comprehensive coverage before the hold is in place, you will be responsible for all physical damage to your vehicle.
If you live in an area where hail is common, you might consider purchasing a plan with a lower deductible to reduce your out-of-pocket cost if you have a car that happens to go through multiple hail storms.
Hail damage is covered like any other standard claim. Providers determine deductibles at the time you purchase car insurance on your vehicle. Many insurance companies require a deductible with a comprehensive policy, but sometimes they offer a zero deductible at an additional cost.
If you have hail damage and a deductible on comprehensive coverage, you will need to pay your deductible when you get your vehicle repaired. Regardless of your deductible amount, it is almost certain that the cost to repair damage from hail will exceed your deductible.
Remember that deductibles are in place to keep your overall insurance costs at a reasonable rate. Hopefully, if you are caught in a storm, you had the foresight to purchase comprehensive coverage on your vehicles if you are not equipped to self-insure. Otherwise, you need to make sure you are parking in a garage or under a covering such as a carport as often as possible.
Can Hail Damage Total My Car?
Your car can be totaled by hail damage. If the damage is extensive and worth more than your vehicle's current value it may not be worth fixing. An insurance adjuster will verify whether or not your vehicle receives repairs.
If you do file a claim, keep in mind that your car was probably not the only car affected by the hailstorm; it may take longer than usual to process your insurance claim and repair your vehicle.
How Is Hail Damage Assessed?
When you file a claim, the insurance company will send an adjuster to examine your vehicle. The National Alliance of Paintless Dent Repair Technicians recommends that you have your vehicle looked at in a garage, or at least in a shady spot because the glare of the sun can make dents difficult to see.
The adjuster will consider the extent of the damage in order to estimate the cost of repair by one of two main methods:
- Paintless dent removal (PDR): This will include the labor involved to fix dents from the underside of the body panel, without needing to repaint the vehicle. Cost might be assessed per panel or per dent. The estimate will also account for costs to remove and reinstall any parts.
- Traditional method: This might be required for more severe damage, such as when body panels need to be entirely replaced. Otherwise, costs will be estimated to fix and fill dents, and repaint.
Let the insurance company know which body shop or hail repair company you prefer to use. If there's an issue with the estimate (if it was written too low, for example), the body shop may be able to work it out with the insurer without your direct involvement.
Hail damage can be frustrating to deal with. Often people feel the situation may have been unavoidable and don't feel as though they should have to pay for repairs or a deductible. Storm damage is one of those unexpected life surprises everyone just has to deal with from time to time.
Fixing Hail Damage
Some insurance companies might send you a check once the repairs have been made, but some will send you the amount of the estimated repair cost minus your deductible. If you own your car outright and the damage is merely cosmetic, you may decide not to make the repairs.
However, if you choose to live with your “dimples,” you will probably get far less money for your vehicle if or when you attempt to sell it. If you have an auto loan, you will likely be required to make the repairs.