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Yes, your car insurance will cover the cost of repairs due to hail damage, as long as you have comprehensive coverage. Unfortunately, if you don't have comprehensive coverage, you will almost certainly be responsible for covering the costs on your own. Here's what you need to stay protected, and how to minimize your costs if you live in an area with frequent hail storms.
When does car insurance cover hail damage?
If you have comprehensive insurance, your car will be protected from hail damage. If you have a liability-only policy, however, damage from hail won't be covered. No state requires drivers to carry comprehensive insurance, but we recommend you add it to your policy to cover situations like this — especially if your car is worth more than $3,000 or is less than 10 years old.
If you don't have comprehensive insurance
If you do not have comprehensive car insurance, your insurance company is essentially guaranteed not to pay for the damages. Comprehensive insurance is the only way to cover hail damage. Generally, adding comprehensive coverage costs an extra $100 to $300 per year. Considering that a hail storm can end up costing you thousands of dollars, it's not a burdensome expense to pay. This is especially true if you live in an area with frequent 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 $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 hail chips your windshield. Most windshield chips can be repaired for less than $130, as we've found in previous analyses.
In this case, it would be more cost-effective to pay for the repairs yourself rather than file a claim with your insurer and pay the $500 deductible. Even if the price of repairs ends up being slightly higher than your deductible, filing a claim can cause your rates to go up. It may actually be cheaper for you to pay slightly more than your deductible so you don't have to pay more in premiums in the long run.
How to file an auto insurance claim for hail damage
Filing a claim for hail damage follows the same process as other types of car insurance claims. You should contact your insurer, either online or by phone, as soon as possible after the storm passes. Keep in mind that if there is a major storm in the area, many of your neighbors will also likely be calling to file a claim, so it could take longer for your claim to be processed.
The faster you call, the faster your insurer can help you. After filing a claim, your auto insurance company will send a claims adjuster to assess the damage and determine how much they will pay.
Which states have the most hail storms?
Certain parts of the country are more prone to hail storms, so you should be prepared if hail is a common occurrence in your area. If you are getting car insurance in Texas, Wyoming, Nebraska or other states in the Midwest, hail storms are more likely to damage your car, so you should purchase comprehensive insurance. The map below shows 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 comprehensive insurance. For example, between 1950 and 2011, there was more than $3 billion worth of property damage due to hail in the state of Texas alone.
How to protect your car from hail damage
If you live in one of the states highlighted above, you should also consider taking some precautions to reduce the damage your car faces during a hail storm.
The most important step is storing your car in a garage or covered carport, which will protect your car most of the time.
You can also purchase a car cover to store in your car. If you are on the road or parked away from home and a hail storm hits, you can quickly pull out the cover to reduce the damage caused by hail. Hail storms generally only last a few minutes, so you shouldn’t be stranded for long.
We also recommend downloading 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 minimize the damage to your car, you may avoid repairs entirely or be able to cover the cost out of pocket without needing to file an insurance claim.
NICB Hail claims data from 2017-2019