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Does Car Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

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  • Does Car Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

Hail damage can be an absolute pain for drivers, especially those who park their cars outside, making them more susceptible to the often costly car hail damage. Although hail occurs throughout the United States — due to the perfect combination of freezing water falling and rising from clouds because of wind updrafts — the National Severe Storms Laboratory classifies hail alley as Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming.

Those three states experience the most hail damage, but car hail damage claims occur from Florida to Michigan, New York and beyond. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about hail damage and your auto insurance policy.

Does Car Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

If you have comprehensive coverage in your car insurance policy, you’ll be covered for any type of hail damage, including dents in your vehicle, a cracked or shattered windshield and windows and even interior vehicle damage if the hail gets inside and causes water damage.

However, if you only have liability insurance, your policy won’t cover hail damage and you’ll be stuck paying for the repairs to your vehicle out of your own pocket. Liability coverage is the minimum required coverage in each state, but it only covers property damage to others, damage to the other vehicles and medical bills to individuals not in your vehicle if you’re at-fault for an accident.

On the other hand, comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle from things out of your own control, such as hail damage. Often lumped into the full coverage auto policy category, comprehensive coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle when it sustains damage due to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and even if you accidentally collide with an animal while driving.

Comprehensive car insurance claims are subject to a deductible, so you’ll need to pay a dollar amount that’s been preset by your insurer at the time you purchased the policy. After paying your deductible, your insurer will cover the hail damage to your vehicle up to your policy’s maximum.

How Much Does Car Insurance Pay for Hail Damage?

Car insurance will pay up to your policy’s comprehensive coverage maximum for hail damage, depending on the extent of the damage. So you’d need $25,000 in comprehensive coverage if your vehicle is worth $25,000. If you have less coverage (say $15,000) and your vehicle is considered totaled, your insurer would only pay $15,000.

Since hail — as well as many other natural disasters — can total a vehicle, it’s important to have as much comprehensive coverage as your vehicle is worth.

Those individuals who lease or are currently financing their vehicle are often required to purchase comprehensive coverage to ensure the vehicle is protected against a wider variety of perils. If you still owe money on your vehicle, it’s also wise to invest in gap insurance.

Gap insurance pays the difference between what an insurer will give you for a totaled vehicle and how much you still owe your lender. Let’s say your vehicle is worth $15,000, you have $15,000 worth of comprehensive coverage, but you still owe $20,000 to your lender.

If a hail storm totals your vehicle, your insurer would only pay $15,000, which would go directly to your lender. You’d be stuck paying the remaining $5,000 to pay off the car note. That’s why gap insurance coverage can be imperative in some cases.

How Long Do You Have to Claim Hail Damage on a Car?

Each insurer has different timelines between the date of the hail damage and the last date you can file a claim. You usually have six months to file a hail damage claim after the damage has occurred, but you’ll want to check with your insurance agent right away to make sure your claim isn’t denied due to filing outside the allotted timeline.

However, even though you may have six months or longer to file an auto insurance claim for hail damage, we suggest filing a claim right away. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to prove the damage was actually sustained by hail — or the peril you’re filing for.

Should I Claim Hail Damage on My Car?

Filing a hail damage car insurance claim depends entirely on how much damage has been sustained and how much you must pay for a deductible. The average cost of a car hail damage claim is typically between $2,500 and $3,000 — although it could be much more or less. If you have a significant amount of damage, it makes sense to file a claim. But if you have $2,000 in damage and your deductible is $1,000, it may not make sense to file a claim.

Let’s break down some scenarios of when it makes sense to file a claim and when it doesn’t make sense to file a claim with your insurer.

If a large hail storm causes severe damage to your vehicle, shattering windows and putting baseball-sized dents in your hood and roof, the cost to repair that damage will likely be significant. Depending on the value of your vehicle, it could even be considered a total loss.

If you have a $500 deductible and the damage exceeds $2,000, it may make sense to file a claim. If you didn’t file a claim, you’d have to pay $2,000 out of your own pocket to repair your vehicle. Even if you have a $1,000 deductible and the damage is only $2,000, it still may make sense to file a claim. The answer to whether or not you should file a claim depends on how much money you’re willing to pay out of your own pocket.

On the other side of the spectrum, those people with a $1,000 deductible and $1,500 worth of damage may want to consider not filing a claim. After all, it would only cost $500 more to fix the repairs and you’d keep an auto claim off your record.

Does a Hail Damage Claim Raise My Insurance Rates?

Unfortunately, a hail damage claim — and any auto insurance claim filed against your insurance — can raise your auto insurance rates. The good news is that comprehensive claims typically don’t raise your rates as much because the damage was due to an external factor outside of your control and has nothing to do with your driving abilities.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.