Hailstorms can cause serious damage to your car, leaving it with dents, cracks, and scratches. If you live in an area where hail is common, you may wonder if your car insurance will cover the cost of repairing your car after a hailstorm. The answer depends on what type of car insurance coverage you have and how much damage your car has sustained.
What is Hail Damage?
Hail is a form of frozen precipitation that falls from thunderstorms. Hailstones can vary in size from small pellets to large balls, depending on the intensity of the storm and the atmospheric conditions. The National Weather Service classifies hailstones into different categories based on their diameter, such as:
- Pea: 0.25 inch
- Marble: 0.50 inch
- Quarter: 0.75 inch
- Golf ball: 1.75 inch
- Tennis ball: 2.50 inch
- Baseball: 2.75 inch
- Grapefruit: 4.00 inch
The larger the hailstone, the faster it falls and the more damage it can cause to your car. Hail damage can affect various parts of your car, such as:
- The windshield: Hail can crack or shatter your windshield, impairing your visibility and safety.
- The windows: Hail can also crack or break your side windows or rear window, exposing your car to theft or vandalism.
- The roof: Hail can dent or puncture your roof, affecting its structural integrity and appearance.
- The hood: Hail can dent or scratch your hood, reducing its aerodynamics and value.
- The trunk: Hail can dent or damage your trunk, affecting its functionality and storage capacity.
- The doors: Hail can dent or scratch your doors, making them harder to open or close.
- The mirrors: Hail can crack or break your mirrors, affecting your ability to see behind you or change lanes.
- The lights: Hail can crack or break your headlights, taillights, or turn signals, affecting your visibility and signaling.
- The paint: Hail can chip or peel off your paint, exposing your car to rust and corrosion.
What Type of Car Insurance Covers Hail Damage?
Car insurance usually only covers hail damage if you have comprehensive coverage — a type of add-on coverage that covers non-collision related damage to your vehicle, like damage from natural disasters, hail, animals, falling objects, and more.
Comprehensive coverage is optional in most states, meaning you have to pay extra for it. However, if you lease or finance your car, your lender may require you to have comprehensive coverage as part of your loan agreement.
If you don’t have comprehensive coverage and your car gets damaged by hail, you’ll have to pay for the repairs yourself or live with the damage.
How Much Does Comprehensive Coverage Cost?
The cost of comprehensive coverage depends on various factors, such as:
- Your car’s make, model, year, and value
- Your driving history and record
- Your credit score and history
- Your location and zip code
- Your deductible amount
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average annual cost of comprehensive coverage in the U.S. was $166 in 2019. However, this may vary widely depending on where you live and what company you choose.
To find out how much comprehensive coverage would cost you, you can compare quotes from different car insurance companies online or through an agent.
How Does Comprehensive Coverage Work?
Comprehensive coverage works by paying for the cost of repairing or replacing your car after a covered event, such as hail damage. However, comprehensive coverage is not unlimited — it has a limit and a deductible.
The limit is the maximum amount that your car insurance company will pay for a claim. The limit is usually based on the actual cash value (ACV) of your car — which is its market value minus depreciation — at the time of the loss.
The deductible is the amount that you have to pay out of pocket before your car insurance company pays for the rest of the claim. The deductible is usually a fixed amount that you choose when you buy comprehensive coverage, such as $250, $500, or $1,000.
For example, suppose your car has an ACV of $10,000 and you have a $500 deductible. If your car gets damaged by hail and the cost of repairs is $2,000, you’ll have to pay $500 and your car insurance company will pay $1,500. However, if the cost of repairs is $8,000, you’ll still pay $500 and your car insurance company will pay $7,500. But if the cost of repairs is $12,000, you’ll pay $500 and your car insurance company will pay $9,500 — which is the limit of your coverage.
How to File a Car Insurance Claim for Hail Damage?
If your car is damaged by hail and you have comprehensive coverage, you should contact your car insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim. Here are the steps to follow:
- Take photos of the damage: Before you move or touch your car, take photos of the damage from different angles and distances. This will help you document the extent and severity of the damage and provide evidence for your claim.
- Contact your car insurance company: Call or go online to report the hail damage to your car insurance company. Provide them with your policy number, personal information, vehicle information, and details of the incident, such as when and where it happened and how severe the damage was.
- Get an estimate: Your car insurance company will assign an adjuster to inspect your car and estimate the cost of repairs. The adjuster may visit your home or ask you to take your car to a repair shop or a drive-in claims center. The adjuster will also determine if your car is repairable or a total loss.
- Choose a repair shop: Depending on your car insurance company, you may have the option to choose a repair shop from their network or one of your choice. If you choose a network repair shop, your car insurance company may guarantee the workmanship and quality of the repairs. If you choose your own repair shop, you may have to pay for any additional costs that exceed the estimate from the adjuster.
- Pay your deductible: Once you choose a repair shop, you’ll have to pay your deductible amount before the repairs begin. The repair shop will then bill your car insurance company for the rest of the cost.
- Get your car back: After the repairs are done, you can pick up your car from the repair shop and check that everything is in order. If you’re not satisfied with the repairs, you can contact your car insurance company or repair shop to resolve any issues.
How to Prevent Hail Damage?
While you can’t control the weather, there are some steps you can take to prevent or minimize hail damage to your car:
- Park in a garage or under a covered structure: If possible, park your car in a garage or under a covered structure when hail is forecasted or occurring. This will protect your car from direct impact from hailstones.
- Use a hail cover or blanket: If you don’t have access to a garage or covered structure, you can use a hail cover or blanket to cover your car. A hail cover or blanket is a thick and padded material that can absorb some of the impact from hailstones and reduce the damage to your car.
- Move away from windows: If you’re driving during a hailstorm, try to move away from windows and park under a bridge, overpass, gas station canopy, or any other sheltered area. This will protect you and your windshield from hailstones.
- Avoid driving during a hailstorm: If possible, avoid driving during a hailstorm altogether. Driving during a hailstorm can increase the speed and force of hailstones hitting your car and cause more damage. It can also be dangerous for you as hail can impair your visibility and traction.
Hail damage can be costly and frustrating for car owners. However, if you have comprehensive coverage as part of your car insurance policy, you can get reimbursed for the cost of repairing or replacing your car after a hailstorm.
Comprehensive coverage is optional in most states, but it may be worth buying if you live in an area where hail is frequent or if you want to protect your car from other perils.