Is Hailstorm Damage Covered by Insurance?
Each year millions of dollars worth of auto insurance claims are filed due to hailstorm damage to cars. Also homeowners insurance claims are filed for homes with destroyed roofs. It’s common to forget that hailstorms are a natural disaster. We often only consider earthquakes and floods, maybe because we have to buy these two policies separately from our basic home insurance policy. Hailstorms are a covered peril according to a standard homeowners insurance. However, if you only have liability car insurance, you’ll be left to pick up the tab to fix the damage to your car, which may add up to thousands of dollars. Hailstorm damage is only covered by comprehensive car insurance and only up to limits. If you live in an area that is particularly prone to storms, it’s a good idea to raise your limits on your comprehensive coverage and maintain your roof so you’re not forced to file a homeowners insurance claim, which will raise your rate. While there’s no way of knowing when the next hailstorm will strike, it is possible to hail-proof your car and home to minimize damages.
What Is Hail?
Hail beating down on the surface of your car is no different from taking a bunch of ice cubes and pelting them at your car as hard as you can. Don’t confuse hail with sleet, either. Sleet is what comes down when the temperature is freezing. Hailstorms occur when the weather is temperate, often in early summer or spring. The storm may begin with thunderstorms during which hailstones big and small come raining down on some of your most expensive assets.
How to Protect Your Car When Hail Strikes
Hail damage is terribly damaging to a car’s windows, the paint and even the metal structure. If you’re on the road when it begins to hail, you’ll want to find a freeway overpass and take cover there if you can do so safely. If possible, position the car so the hail hits the windshield as opposed to the side windows (yes, drive into the hail). Your windshield can withstand more impact than the flimsier side windows. You can also seek shelter under a covered awning or a covered or underground garage (head to the mall or the hospital if you have to). If it’s just not possible to find the right shelter, find a tall building. Park in a spot opposite to the side getting struck by wind. If your car is still getting beaten down with ice pellets, get anything you can out of the car, especially your car mat. Place the mat over your windshield, which you don’t want to crack. If you have blankets or towels, drape them over the car. If you’re home and you have nowhere to take your car for shelter from the hair, find a tarp and blankets to layer and drape over your car.
Prepare Your Car Ahead of Time
Buy a car cover at an auto supply store or through Amazon. Make sure that it fits your make, model and year of the car you currently drive. Carry the cover in your car so you can simply pull it on whenever a storm is set to strike.
You can download a weather app that will alert you to an oncoming storm so you can prepare your car in advance of a storm front.
How to Protect Your Home When Hail Strikes
The first thing you should do well ahead of a home purchase is to look into the material the roof is made of. If the roof is not made of a particularly sturdy material, it may be a good idea to hold off on buying the house or buying at a lower price and replacing it with a better one or possibly adding solar panels to your roof. Solar roofs are not only great for reducing your bills but they add an extra layer of protection to the structure of the house. According to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) modified asphalt shingles are the most hail resistant. Your windows also need preparation. Hail can break or crack windows, sliding doors and anything that’s glass (skylights). Ideally, you should have impact resistant windows and siding.
You should be doing a thorough roof inspection every year so that small problems can be fixed before they worsen and cause serious damage. Have a professional do the work. Some people think that roof damage is covered by homeowners insurance. This is not always the case. For more on this topic, read our article How Do Insurance Agents Determine Roof Damage. In short, many people wrongly assume that they can get a new and failing roof once the next big storm hits. They figure they can pay for it with their insurance claim. However, homeowners insurance is very thorough in determining if the roof was in poor condition before the storm. More often than not, when a storm takes off a roof or parts of it, it’s because of the homeowner’s negligence in maintaining the most important part of the house. Homeowners insurance claims often pay for only a fraction of the cost of replacing the roof.
Also, note that if you make multiple claims on your homeowners insurance, not only will your insurance rate go up, but you risk getting dropped by your insurance carrier. It’s very difficult to find another carrier to insure you if you’re considered high-risk.
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