Is your car protected from seasonal storms? They are inevitable. And they can definitely leave their mark.
Yep, we are talking about hail. Across the US, most insurance claims for hail damage are filed April through June. Depending on where you live, a car-damaging hail storm could be a once-in-forever event or a yearly worry.
If you have the right kind of coverage, repair or replacement of damaged parts may be covered, but how you handle your claim can make a world of difference in getting back on the road quickly.
Comprehensive Coverage & Where You Need It
Car insurance could cover you in the case of hail, but you have to have comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage is generally an add-on offered by insurers that protects you in case of damage that isn’t caused by an accident.
Also known as “other than collision” coverage, this coverage is a safeguard against anything out-of-the-ordinary that isn’t your fault. With it, you’re covered if you accidentally strike an animal, if your car gets stolen, if a tree branch falls on your car — or if you get nailed by a hail storm.
Comprehensive coverage is not mandatory in any state, though if you purchased your car with a loan, many borrowers insist on you carrying it. If you live in Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, or Colorado, you might want to think about adding it to your policy if you don’t already have it. Those are the top five states for hail insurance claims with over $1.5 billion in hail claims paid in 2020 alone.
How To Protect Your Car
If you find yourself on the bad end of a hail storm and have comprehensive coverage, the first thing to do is act quickly. Unlike in more common insurance claims where there are generally just two vehicles involved, when hail happens, there can be hundreds or even thousands of claims being processed for the same event. And like you, many will find themselves wondering…”Is my car protected?”
If you have the right coverage, your repairs will be covered….eventually. But with so many claims coming through, waiting to file your claim means being at the back of the line both for processing and restoring your car to its pre-hail glory.
Pro Tip: The best and most efficient way to file a hail claim is to notify either your agent or the claims department of your insurer. They typically have preferred body shops to assure quality work.
If the hail caused cosmetic damage only, the body shops can use what’s called “paintless dent repair” to remove dents instead of having to replace the hood, roof, or panels. Of course, if there is major damage, the part will have to be replaced.
Comprehensive coverage usually comes with a deductible, and if you’re only dealing with a window chip, it might make more sense to simply pay to have it repaired than to file a claim. However, the average hail damage insurance claim was $4,300 in 2020, so you’re probably best filing if the damage is bad.
In general, since hail isn’t due to your negligence and is out of your control, a single hail claim should not raise your rates much, if at all, in most cases. That being said, insurers monitor the total number of claims you’ve made within a certain period of time — typically 3 years. So, if you’ve had multiple claims in the recent past, you should expect a rate hike.
Always Be Prepared
If you live where hail storms blow through regularly, adding comprehensive coverage to your insurance policy is the second-best thing you can do to protect your car from hail. The best thing is to not get damaged at all.
Storing your car in a garage or covered carport will protect your car most of the time — and it may lower your insurance rate.
If you’re on the road or park away from home regularly, you can purchase a padded car cover to store in your trunk. That way, when a hail storm hits, even if you’re away from home, you can quickly throw a buffer between your car and the hail to minimize potential damage.
So is your car protected? As the adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and when it comes to hail damage, that couldn’t be more true. By doing your best to keep your car protected, you can avoid the trouble and time of filing claims and getting repairs.
Of course, you can’t protect against everything, so if you live where hail is a regular occurrence, adding comprehensive coverage is a great Plan B.
With comprehensive coverage, “other than collision” events like hail storms are covered by your insurance. By acting fast and working with your insurers’ recommended body shops, you can get your car repaired quickly and professionally. With little money out-of-pocket or (if you haven’t filed many claims) a major rate increase, you and your car will be ready to hit the road all summer long.