If your car has recently been damaged in a hailstorm, you may be left wondering what to do. On one hand, you can probably live with a few dents in your car. On the other hand, you have an insurance policy for a reason, right? When hailstones damage, dent, or ding your car, it is important to know what your options are for filing an insurance claim. At Hail Depot, we get a lot of questions about what to do after a hailstorm (we are your trusted hail damage repair experts, after all). We know that making the decision to file an insurance claim is a big deal, so we’re here to answer some of your burning questions.
What if I don’t want to file an insurance claim?
Most of the time, auto hail damage is simply cosmetic. You may emerge after a hailstorm to find a handful of dents on the hood of your car, and sometimes there will be no damage at all! In cases of very severe hailstorms, your car could suffer punctured or shattered windshields, broken headlights, and even engine damage. In that case, it is necessary to repair the hail damage in order to safely operate your vehicle.
What do I do right after the storm happens?
Even before you decide whether or not you will even file a claim, there are a few important steps to take. The first step is to take pictures of the damage for documentation. You can never have too many photos, so be sure to get up close and personal with the dents and dings, as well as take pictures of the vehicle from every angle. After that, call your insurance company. Inform them that your car has suffered hail damage, and give them an idea of the extent of the damage. For example, filing a claim for five small dents will be very different than filing a claim for 40-50 dents that span the hood and roof of your car. Your insurer may be able to send you a form online or through the mail, or could inform you of your options moving forward. After you decide to move forward with a claim, you can start looking to local body shops for estimates.
Does my insurance cover hail damage repair?
If you have a comprehensive auto insurance plan, then you should be covered for car hail damage. This type of coverage is sometimes also referred to as “other than collision” or “act of God” coverage and accounts for incidents of natural disasters or hazards, vandalism, or theft.
With this insurance coverage, you will have to pay your comprehensive deductible amount for the repairs, and the insurance company should cover the rest.
Should I file a claim, or just pay out of pocket?
This depends on how extensive the hail damage is. If the damage exceeds your deductible, then it would be in your benefit to file a claim so that the insurance company can foot part of the bill. However, if the damage is insignificant and will cost less than your deductible, you will be paying the same amount with or without a claim. In this case, it is up to the car owner to use their best judgment on whether or not to follow through with the claims process.
Comprehensive insurance deductibles can range anywhere from $100-$2500 but usually, fall between $250-$1000. For this reason, it is important to be aware of how much your insurance deductible is, so you will be ready to file if you need to.
Will my premiums rise if I file a hail claim?
Most of us have been in a situation where we got pulled over for a minor driving violation or came back to our parked car to find a ticket on the window. Sometimes our first thought is about how our insurance premiums are going to rise. However, usually, auto hail damage will not increase your insurance premiums because most insurance companies will not hold drivers liable for natural events. But like we’ve already said, it is important to be knowledgeable about your insurance plan before events like this happen.
Along these lines, be aware that even if you are protected under a comprehensive plan that won’t increase your rates for hail damage, sometimes insurance companies have stipulations about the number of claims you can file before your premiums rise. This means that if you filed any other claims recently, your company may still raise your premiums due to a hail damage claim because you are seen as “high risk” simply because of the number of claims you have filed.
Do I have to fix my car? It’s just a few dents!
Whether or not you are required to repair your car will depend on whether or not you own your car. If you have completely paid off your car and it belongs only to you, then you are under no obligation to repair hail damage. However, if you are still paying off a car loan, then you are legally obligated to maintain the car’s value since the car still technically belongs to the loan company, and that would include taking care of hail damage repair.
Can’t I just fix the dents myself?
You could if you really wanted to. But having professionals restore your car, especially by using paintless dent removal like we do at Hail Depot, can better maintain the value of your car. Even just a small dent or blemish can cause a car appraiser to bump your car down from “fair” to “poor”, so if you think you might sell your car, even in the distant future, it is better to have a professional take care of the car hail damage now.
How can I avoid hail damage all together?
Thankfully, with enough warning and the right supplies, you may be able to avoid the stress of auto hail damage altogether. First of all, the following are meant as precautions. It is dangerous to go outside while hailstones are falling to try to protect your car. Here are some quick tips for how to prevent hail damage after a storm is predicted:
- If you can pull your car into a garage or under a building structure such as an awning or gas station cover, this is your best bet to avoid hail damage.
- If you are currently driving, pull over to the side of the road if safe to do so. Hail will impact a moving vehicle harder than a stationary one.
- Cover your vehicle with blankets or mats. Sometimes if there are high winds accompanying the hail, this won’t work very well. But some padding is better than none at all when it comes to protecting your vehicle.
When The Unexpected Happens, Trust Hail Depot
However, sometimes hail will occur even when it is not predicted — or may happen while you are on vacation and unable to protect your car. In this case, it is best to invest in a comprehensive insurance plan before a hailstorm hits. Additionally, knowing who to call before you experience hail damage will make the auto hail damage repair process easier. Hail Depot is your nationally trusted experts when it comes to car hail damage repair, paintless dent removal, and auto dent removal. Contact us today to find out how Hail Depot can help repair your hail-damaged car through paintless dent removal!