Is Hail Damage Covered by Auto Insurance?
If you’ve ever been caught in a hailstorm you won’t forget it. The noise of the hail hitting your car and everything around it is startling. And if the storm is intense enough and the hail big enough, you may have to take your car to the body shop. But don’t worry, with proper insurance you are covered for whatever damage the hail does. You just need to sign up for comprehensive auto insurance before the next storm and you are all set for whatever a hailstorm brings your way.
Let’s take a look at hailstorms, the damage they can do to a car and how comprehensive insurance will cover the damages.
What Are Hailstorms?
Most common during thunderstorms, hail forms when there are strong upwards currents of air combined with lower freezing altitudes. Drops of water freeze together and these little chunks of ice are called hailstones. Hail can be small like pebbles or big like golf balls. And the intensity of the hailstorm can vary as well. Never gentle, hail can be quite loud and forceful. The bigger the hailstones and the more intense the storm, the more damage to your vehicle. If you see a big thunderstorm forming, place your car in a garage or carport if you have one of these structures.
If you get caught out in the storm, find a parking garage or another covered parking structure and wait out the storm.
If driving on the highway, pull under a bridge or overpass. These shelters will deflect the direct force of the hailstorm. A padded car cover is one way to protect a car parked outside during a hailstorm. These covers also called hail protection blankets can be found online and at auto parts stores.
Where and When Do Hailstorms Occur?
Most insurance claims for hail damage are filed in April, May and June in the Midwest and South Central United States. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the states with the most frequent hail claims are Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Illinois. The top cities for hail are San Antonio, Colorado Springs, Omaha, Denver and Plano, Texas.
What to Do During Hailstorms:
Worried about getting caught in a hailstorm? Here’s what to do, according to the National Weather Service. If hail is being forecast, put your car in a garage, covered parking lot or other protected area such as a carport. If caught driving during a hailstorm, find an area where it is safe to pull over and stop driving. Stay inside your vehicle until the hail completely stops.
Damage to Cars: Comprehensive Coverage
A major hailstorm can cause serious damage to a car including engine damage, holes in your car’s roof and broken windshields. A milder hailstorm may just leave dents and scratches on your car’s exterior, more of an annoyance than real damage to your car.
Still, you will want to repair this smaller damage prior to selling the car. All those dents and scratches will negatively affect the car’s resale value. And you want to get the most money you can for the car when selling it or trading it in. If the damage is small, a professional can repair the dents and fix up the scratches and possibly repaint the car.
If your car gets caught in a major hailstorm, there’s a good chance you will need to get body work done and you may need to get a windshield replaced. So choose a body shop carefully. Ask if they have experience with damage from hail. Shop around for the best estimates for the repairs.
Are You Covered?
If you have comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, you’re financially covered for hailstorm damage. But a basic liability coverage won’t be of any help after a hailstorm. Also, remember that you must first pay the deductible before the damages are covered.
What Is Comprehensive Coverage?
Comprehensive auto insurance covers events that aren’t covered by collision coverage. These events include fire, theft, vandalism and damages from weather such as a hailstorm, a windstorm, a hurricane or a tornado.
Once you meet your policy’s deductible, a claim can be made to cover the damages to the vehicle from the hailstorm. Adding comprehensive coverage to your auto policy is the best way to protect your car financially from damages from a hailstorm.
Comprehensive coverage is an optional coverage for car insurance. But if there is a loan on your car your auto lender may require you to carry comprehensive insurance. If you live in an area with frequent hailstorms, it makes sense to sign up for comprehensive coverage. That way, once you meet your deductible, your insurance company will pay for the hail damages to your car.
The deductible is the amount you pay out of your own pocket when making a claim. Having a higher deductible may help to lower your premium. But you’ll pay that higher deductible when it’s time to make a claim. Dinged windshield? Under some circumstances your insurance company may waive the deductible on the glass portion of your comprehensive coverage. For example, if the glass is repaired and not replaced your insurance company may waive the deductible.
Filing a Hail Claim
When you file a claim for damages on a car caused by hail, you will work with a claim adjuster and auto body shop to get an estimate of the needed repairs. An adjuster will determine whether the insurance company will pay for repairs or if your car has been totaled. A car is considered totaled if the cost of repairs exceeds the car’s depreciated value.
If a car is totaled and you have comprehensive coverage, your insurance company will write you a check for the car’s actual cash value. And you could use this money to help pay for a new car.
How Much Money Will I Get for an Auto Claim Based on Hail?
Very light hail damage may not be enough to meet a deductible. But more severe damage could cost thousands of dollars. The average claim is about $3,000.
Will a Hail Claim Increase My Insurance Rates?
In general, claims made to your comprehensive policy won’t raise your insurance rates. So a hail claim in of itself won’t trigger a rate increase.
But the number of claims made against your policy can affect your insurance rates. So if you have a number of claims in addition to your hail claim you may see your rates increase. You may even get dropped by your insurer for filing too many claims.
Repairing the Damage
Whether light or severe damage from a hailstorm, your car needs to be repaired. Dents, dings and scratches and even more severe damage to your car’s sides, roof, windshield and bodywork all needs to be addressed. Having a comprehensive auto policy gives you the means to do it. If your car should get totaled you will get the actual cash value of your car from your insurance company. And if the repair costs are lower than that, the insurance company will pay for those repairs, after you pay for your deductible and make a claim.
So if you live in a state where hailstorms are frequent consider this valuable coverage. A comprehensive insurance policy is the best way to protect your car from hailstorms.
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