Is hail damage covered by car insurance?

After a strong storm, it can be disheartening to find your car damaged by hail, especially if you are not sure whether the damage is covered by your insurance. The good news is that most likely the hail damage IS covered by car insurance, however, whether you are covered will depend on your exact insurance policy. In this article, we walk through the type of insurance coverage you will need, the cost of hail damage, and when you should make a claim.

What is the cost of hail damage?

The average cost to repair hail damage to a car is over $4,000, according to one law firm. Hail damage initially may appear to just be cosmetic damage to your car’s paint and exterior, however, the damage can be much more than superficial. In addition to paint and exterior damage, hail may also cause expensive damage to your windshield or mirrors. This can increase the cost of the repair and present a significant safety issue!

When is hail damage covered by car insurance?

Hail damage is typically covered by comprehensive car insurance policies. In general, a comprehensive policy covers repairs to your car if it is damaged by environmental issues such as wind, flooding, hail, lightning, and fires. Nearly 80% of drivers do have some form of comprehensive coverage, so the chances are very good that you are covered for hail damage. In addition, if your car is financed or leased, you will almost certainly have comprehensive coverage because most lenders will require it.

Should you make an insurance claim for hail damage?

Hail damage should almost always be repaired, but should you make an insurance claim for the repair? Or should you just pay for the repair yourself? Making an insurance claim for hail damage WILL go on your insurance record. And unfortunately, adding a claim to your insurance record will typically increase the cost of your car insurance.

It is impossible to know precisely how much an insurance company will raise your rates due to a claim. Unlike other claims, however, one source found that making a comprehensive claim has a very small impact on your insurance rates. Whereas a liability claim may increase the cost of your insurance by hundreds of dollars, on average a comprehensive claim only raised drivers’ rates by $6 per month! In fact, in some states such as California and Oklahoma, it is actually illegal for an insurance company to raise your rates after you make a comprehensive claim.

Because of the small impact on your insurance rate, in the majority of cases, it does make sense to make a hail damage claim. However, you should still consider how extensive the damage to your car is and the size of your deductible. A deductible is the amount that you will need to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. See below for an example of how a comprehensive policy with a $1k deductible works in a hail incident that causes $4k in damage.

diagram of hail damage covered by car insurance

One of the only times you should NOT make a claim is if the cost of repairing hail damage is less than your deductible. If you make a claim below your deductible, you won’t receive any payment from your insurance company and your rates might go up!

How does the claim process work for hail damage?

Immediately upon noticing damage from hail you should call your insurance company and file a claim. Every insurer’s claim process is different, but if you give your insurance company a call they will walk you through the steps to formally file a claim.

Typically after filing a claim, you will then need to work with an insurance adjuster (provided by your insurer) and an independent body shop to get a repair estimate. Most likely the body shop will then proceed with the repair, fixing the damage that the hail caused. Although hail is less destructive than other weather-related damage, occasionally the adjuster will determine that your car is totaled. If this happens, your insurance company will give you a check for the cash value of your car, which you can use to purchase a new vehicle.

How to prevent hail damage to your car?

It may be too late to prevent damage to your car this time, but in the future there are two strategies you can take advantage of to avoid hail damage:

  • Park inside or under a cover: keep an eye on the weather, and if hail is in the forecast park your car in a garage, carport, or even a public parking garage
  • Cover your car: if you don’t have access to a covered parking spot, you should consider covering your car’s exterior. A blanket or cardboard can prevent some light hail damage, but if you commonly get heavy hail you may want to invest in a hail blanket
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