Does Auto Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

One of the most damaging natural events your vehicle can suffer, short of having a tree fall on it, is being pummeled by hailstones, because this will affect the entire bodywork of the car.

Prevention is always better than a cure, so – if a storm is predicted – try and get your vehicle protected, either safely in a garage or multi-story car park or under some other type of cover, such as a car port.

If your car is damaged by hailstones, the cost of repairs can be sky-high because the damage will be so extensive. Fortunately, if you have bought comprehensive cover, then you will probably be covered for hail damage, depending on the detail of your cover.

If your insurance is only the absolute minimum required by your state, then it will be liability only coverage, which is to take care of your liability to other drivers in the event you cause an automobile accident.

To be covered for hail and other damage to your car, such as flooding, you will need to buy comprehensive insurance.

But beware of leaving your purchase of this cover to the last minute, when a storm is already brewing, because insurers are wary of people who only buy cover when the chance they will need it is at its highest.

To combat this, they impose time limits on new comprehensive policies, so they don’t pay out for specific events which occur within a certain period of the policy’s inception.

You also need to bear in mind the deductibles which are set when you purchase car insurance on your vehicle. This is a sum of money you agree to pay towards any insurance claim before the insurance company pays out. So, for example, if the total payout is $10,000 and you have a $1,000 deductible, then the insurance pays you $9,000, leaving you to take care of the $1,000 balance.

When you buy the insurance is the time to decide the size of the deductible you’re comfortable with. The larger the deductible you elect to pay, the smaller your insurance premiums will be.

Hail damage can be so extensive and so costly to fix that there’s a good chance to your insurance company will declare your vehicle totaled.

That means the cost of fixing the damage can be greater than the insurer’s valuation of the vehicle, in which case your vehicle will be pronounced ‘totaled’, the vehicle would not be repaired and you will simply be give a certain sum in full and final settlement.

But all is not lost because you might be able to argue your case to get a little larger settlement and you might even get the insurers to agree to allow you keep the car, which might still be drivable, albeit unsightly.

This will take away the imperative to buy a replacement vehicle right away and also give you the means to travel round to view prospective replacements at your leisure so you can eventually strike a good deal.

Hail damage can be very frustrating to deal with, because you naturally feel you could not possibly avoid this act of nature and yet you have to honor your deductible.

Unfortunately, hail storms are one of the hazards of life, which is the reason why we buy insurance. But a good insurance broker, like the ones on this page, are well placed to advise you on the best insurance for your circumstances.

If you do file a claim, keep in mind that your vehicle is probably one of hundreds damaged by the hailstorm locally. So it will probably take longer than usual to process your insurance claim and repair your vehicle.

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When Not To File An Auto Insurance Claim

Suffering the drama of a car crash – even a very minor one – is a traumatic experience you’ll naturally want to put behind you as quickly as possible.

But you would be wise to take a moment to consider the position carefully before you make a knee-jerk reaction and immediately file a claim with your insurers.

Because, in the case of a minor fender-bender, such precipitous action could unwittingly cost you a king’s ransom further down the road.

Although it is the law that you share your insurance details with the other party in the case of an auto accident, there is no law that obliges you to tell your insurance company if you don’t intend to make a claim.

Remember also the purpose of auto insurance is to protect you against un-affordable costs that could cripple your financially – not to pay for every minor bump or scratch your vehicle sustains.

Of course, if there are injuries involved, then you must report the accident to your insurers. But, provided there are no injuries and only very minor damage to the vehicles, this is a time for a careful appraisal of the situation.

While a single minor claim is unlikely to affect your premium, you are only as good as your last car journey. So, if you were to have a minor accident followed by another one soon after, then that would certainly send your premiums through the roof, maybe by as much as 30-40%!  And that could be more that the cost of the repair.

On the other hand, a single claim might just leave your premiums unaltered.

Also take into account the amount you have set as your deductible, which you would have to pay anyway in the event of an insurance pay out.

Of course, if you’re the only party involved – for example, you backed into a wall, which was undamaged – then deciding what course to take is that much easier.

To a large extent, in the case of a two-car bump, it depends on the reaction of the other driver and, ironically, it will be far easier if you are the driver at fault. That’s because you can quickly take the heat out of the situation by instantly admitting your fault and immediately offering to pay for the repairs.

But, if the other driver is at fault, that’s clearly a trickier situation. But, if they are prepared to be reasonable about it and you really feel you can rely on them to take care of the repair costs without involving their insurers then it’s probably worth trusting them.

Remember, even when an accident is clearly not your fault, merely filing a claim can result in an increase in your premiums.

So, if everyone is calm and friendly, it might be possible to come to a private arrangement, whereby one or other of the parties – or both parties jointly – bear the costs without involving their insurers.

Always remember: the other driver will be just as keen as you to avoid inflating their insurance premiums. So focus on what is to their advantage by suggesting, as the damage is quite minor, they might like to consider preserving their insurance premium at its present level by dealing with the matter privately, just between the two of you.

If the other driver is agreeable to deal with the matter privately, then both parties must get a couple of repair estimates right away. Because, if the repair costs are far higher than you hoped, you’ll still have time to file an insurance claim.

If you are able to get an agreement with the other driver to avoid involving your insurers, it’s vital you obtain a written statement from them confirming none of their party has suffered any injury. This will avoid any injury claims surfacing later.

If there have been injuries, then you must certainly file a claim as medical expenses from a car accident can be notoriously open-ended.

In summary:

If you damage your car with no other vehicle involved and the damage costs $1,000 or less to fix, then you probably won’t want to involve your insurers.

If you are in a minor collision with another vehicle and it is clearly your fault, admitting this right away and paying for the damage to the other driver’s car could well be settled without involving either party’s insurers. Be sure to get a written statement confirming there were no injuries.

If a minor collision is the fault of the other driver and they readily admit it, you could persuade them not to involve either insurer to the benefit of both your insurance premiums. Be sure to get a written statement confirming there were no injuries.

If there are any injuries – regardless of the limited amount of vehicle damage – you must file a claim to protect you against possible sky-high medical costs.

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