Car Insurance and Hail Damage Coverage
Can you file a car insurance claim for hail damage? That depends on what coverage you have and if it’s worth your while.
Hail damage is covered under comprehensive auto insurance. Comprehensive insurance is an add-on to your auto insurance that covers many perils other than collision, including natural perils such as hail. A state-minimum car insurance policy will not cover hail damage.
Filing an auto insurance claim for hail damage should be considered carefully. The repair costs for your car should be higher than your deductible for a claim to be a wise decision. Fortunately, hail damage claims are one of the few types of car insurance claims that won’t raise your premium much afterward, if at all. However, these claims can still affect how much you pay for auto insurance in the long run.
This article will cover:
- How auto insurance covers hail
- Filing a car insurance claim for hail damage
- What to do if your car is totaled by hail damage
- How to prevent hail damage
Does auto insurance cover hail damage?
Basic auto insurance only offers liability coverage. That covers payouts for injury or property damage you cause in an auto accident. It doesn’t cover damage to you or your car, including from hail. However, comprehensive coverage provides coverage for many perils, such as:
- Falling objects like ice
- Flood, hurricane and tornado damage
What this means is that if your vehicle is damaged — or if it’s declared a total loss — due to hail, your comprehensive coverage will cover the costs to repair or replace your car up to your auto insurance policy limits.
According to the NAIC, adding comprehensive coverage to an auto insurance policy costs about $170 a year on average. That’s less than $15 a month. The average auto insurance claim made for hail damage is $3,000, so comprehensive coverage has an excellent return on investment, especially if you live in a region prone to hailstorms. Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming have the worst levels of hail in the country, making comprehensive auto insurance practically a necessity.
While comprehensive coverage is not required by state law, you may need it if you’re leasing or purchasing your car through a lender. If you’re renting a vehicle, comprehensive coverage on your personal policy should extend to it as well. Check with your auto insurance company before renting a car. If your comprehensive auto insurance doesn’t cover rental cars, most rental agencies include it in their car insurance packages.
Filing an insurance claim for hail damage on your car
Before you make a claim for hail damage, you’ll want to compare the estimated repair costs to your auto insurance policy deductible.
If your repair costs after hail damage aren’t significantly higher than your deductible, consider paying for repairs out of pocket. Seeing a hike in your auto insurance premiums after the claim may not be a problem, as comprehensive claims are usually considered beyond your control and not a reflection of your personal risk factor.
The issue is usually long-term. The more claims you file, the more your premium will go up. If the hail damage claim is the only one you’ve made, according to your insurance history, you probably won’t see it affect your rates. However, that claim will be tallied up with others you make in the future. You can file two or three comprehensive insurance claims and most likely see a jump in your premium costs. The fact that you weren’t at fault won’t prevent it.
As such, consider the repair cost to your car and your future rates before filing a hail damage claim. Paying for repairs out of pocket isn’t pleasant, but long-term car insurance premium hikes are worse.
If you decide to file an auto insurance claim for hail damage after a major storm in your area, do so quickly. Chances are your neighbors will be doing the same thing. This can greatly reduce the speed at which your claim is processed.
When you get your claim check, you’re not required by law to use it on repairs to your car. However, if you’re leasing your car or financing it, your lessor or lender will require it.
What to do if your car is totaled by hail damage
You may really love your car and not want to part with it if it is declared totaled by hail damage. Is it worth holding on to? That depends on various considerations.
First, consider the fact that your auto insurer will base the dollar value of your car on its actual cash value, also known as “ACV”. ACV is the estimated current market value of the vehicle, not what you paid for it.
This comes into play if your auto insurance provider allows you to get a payout based on the car’s salvage value. This is the amount your car is worth for parts. Say that your car has an ACV of $15,000 and your auto insurer gives it a salvage value of $9,000. Your auto insurer will give you a check for the difference — in this case, $6,000 minus whatever your deductible is.
This may not be enough to take care of any repair costs required to bring the car back to road-worthy status, at which point it gets a rebuilt title. Furthermore, you’ll need to pay for an inspection to make sure the car is driveable.
Regardless of whether you’re able to restore your car to road-worthiness, its rebuilt status will probably make it nearly impossible to get comprehensive or collision insurance coverage. Rebuilt-title cars are considered high-risk by their nature, and their value is often difficult for insurers to calculate accurately. Most auto insurance companies would just as soon deny coverage rather than take on that level of risk.
Protecting your car from hail damage
Prevention is the best way to avoid an auto insurance claim for hail damage, and it can cost much less than a car repair bill or any consequential premium hikes. Here are some simple, inexpensive steps to potentially avoid a hail damage claim:
- Keep your car in a garage or covered carport if hailstorms are frequent in your area.
- Car covers designed to prevent hail damage are available for purchase. If you want to save money, the floor mats of your car may double as window covers.
- Avoid driving if a hailstorm is predicted. Should you get caught in a hailstorm, find cover for your car as quickly and safely as possible, and wait it out. The velocity of a moving car in a hailstorm can only add to the damage.
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