Hail and Car Insurance

Hailstorms are often part of a severe thunderstorm. In many cases, these storms develop rapidly, which might not leave you with enough time to move your car into a parking garage or another covered area. The resulting damage to your vehicle depends on the size of the hailstones and the duration of the storm. It is important to understand how your car insurance policy handles a hail damage situation.

Assessing the Damage to Your Car

Hailstorms could drop hailstones ranging from the size of a pea to the size of a softball. When possible, photograph the hailstones in or on your car. Include a measuring tape or ruler to show the size of the hailstones. If the hailstones are larger than 1 inch in diameter, damage to your car's glass and body is more likely to occur.

The cost of repairing hail damage can be considerable. This is because the damage is usually spread across the entire car, requiring full body repairs. Your insurance company will have an adjuster inspect your vehicle. You may also be directed to take your vehicle to a designated repair shop so that the damage can be assessed by a mechanic. In some cases, your insurance policy may allow you to take your car to the mechanic of your choice to have the damage assessed.

Understanding Your Auto Insurance Coverage for Hail Damage

Comprehensive auto insurance is what pays for hail damage. You must already have comprehensive car insurance in place on your vehicle in order to be covered for the repairs. If you dropped comprehensive coverage after paying off your car loan, you will have to pay out of pocket for repairs. If you do have comprehensive car insurance, your insurance company might even pay for a rental car while your vehicle is in the shop. Your policy should have the details, or you can check with your agent.

Deciding Whether to File an Insurance Claim

Even if you do have comprehensive auto insurance, you might want to think before filing a claim. For example, if the mechanic says repairs will cost $1,500 and your deductible is $1,000, you might be better off paying for the damage out of your own pocket. This might also be the case if you have already filed one or more comprehensive insurance claims on your car.

If you file multiple claims for storm-related damage, your car insurance company might elect to drop your coverage when it comes time for policy renewal. Consider the value of your car as well. If your car has a current value of $3,000 and you carry a high deductible, you might be better off paying for minimal repairs yourself. When your vehicle has high mileage, its worth may be so low that minor or moderate hail dents will not impact its value.

When Your Car Is a Total Loss

In a severe hailstorm, your car could be damaged so badly that the car insurance adjuster declares it to be a total loss. In this case, your auto insurance policy would pay out the pre-loss value of your car. This should be paid to you in cash according to the terms of your policy.

Your insurance company might also offer you the option of choosing a replacement vehicle of the same make, model and year. This coverage would only apply to a total loss from hail damage if you already had comprehensive insurance coverage in place at the time the damage occurred.

Hail damage to your car can be a frustrating experience. When one of these storms occurs, there is a good chance that a lot of people are going through the same problem. Many auto insurance claims for hail damage in your area could slow down the assessment and payout process. If these storms are common in your area, it might be a good idea to take a close look at your insurance coverage when it comes time to renew your policy.