Hail can cause devastating damage to your car, but luckily, car insurance will take care of it if you have comprehensive insurance. Read on to familiarize yourself with how to what to do after your car is struck with hail.
When Does Car Insurance Cover Hail Damage?
If you have comprehensive insurance, your car will always be protected from hail damage. If you have just a liability policy however, the damage from the hail won't be covered. No state requires drivers carry comprehensive, but we always recommend it be added to their policy for situations like this--especially if the car is worth more than $3,000 or less than 10 years old. In addition to protecting you from hail, comprehensive coverage would also shield your car from vandalism, theft, falling branches, etc. For most cases involving a comprehensive claim, you will have to pay a deductible which usually ranges from as low as $50 to as high as $2,000.
If You Don't Have Comprehensive Insurance
If you do not have comprehensive car insurance, your insurance company will not pay for the damages to your car no matter what. Comprehensive insurance is the only way to have hail be covered. Generally, adding comprehensive coverage costs an extra $100 to $300 per year, and considering a hail storm can end up costing you thousands of dollars, it's not a huge expense to pay. This is especially true if you are in an area that gets a lot of hail storms like Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming.
Should You File a Car Insurance Claim After a Hail Storm?
Whether you file a claim after a hail storm depends on the extent of the damage. The average hail storm claim can reach upwards of $3,000, but for minor cases, it may not be greater than the cost of your deductible. Let's say your deductible is $500, and the hail puts a chip in a windshield. Most windshield chips can be repaired for less than $130 out of pocket, as we've found in previous analyses.
In this case it would be more cost-effective to just pay the money rather than having to go through the insurer and pay the $500 deductible. Even if the price of repairs ends up being slightly more than your deductible, filing a claim can cause your rates to go up. It may actually be cheaper for you to pay slightly above your deductible, so you don't have to pay more in premiums in the long run.
How to File a Hail Damage Auto Insurance Claim
Filing a claim for hail damage is done the same ways as other types of claims. Whatever your preferred method of contacting your company, either online or through phone, you should do it as soon as possible after the storm passes. If there is a major storm in an area, it is likely many of your neighbors or other drivers will be calling to file a claim, so it could take longer until you are actually served. The faster you call, the faster you will be helped. After filing the claim your auto insurance company will send over a claims adjuster to assess the damage, and determine how much they will pay for the damages.
Where is Your Car Most Likely to Be Hit With Hail?
There are certain spots in the country where hail is more likely to happen, so you should be prepared. If you are getting car insurance in Texas, or Wyoming, Nebraska and other states along the Midwest, hail storms are more likely to damage your car, so you should have comprehensive insurance on your policy. Below you can see a map showing the number of hail incidents per county.
Being left to pay out of pocket can end up costing you a lot more than paying for the insurance. Between 1950 and 2011 there was over $3 billion dollars worth of property damage from hail in the state of Texas alone, as an example.
How to Protect Your Car From Hail Damage
If you live in one of the counties above you should also consider taking some precautions to reduce the damage your car faces during the storm. One preventive measure would be to get a car cover which you can store in your trunk. If you are on the road and a hail storm hits, you can quickly pull out the cover to reduce the damage and impact of hail.
You should also get a weather app that can send you alerts when a hail storm is approaching, giving you time to put up the cover or pull over into a covered area. If you can soften the damage to the car enough, you may be able to make all repairs out of pocket without needing to go through insurance.