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Does car insurance cover hail damage?

If you’re a good shopper (or at least try to be one) you know that it’s a good idea to periodically check your auto insurance policy to make sure you have the proper amount of coverage at the best possible rates.

However even the best shoppers do not necessarily understand how car insurance works. Should you buy comprehensive coverage, or is just liability and collision is enough? Besides, there’s usually some kind of exclusion from natural disasters, like floods, hurricanes, or even a hailstorm, isn’t there? Does car insurance even cover hail damage? Well, let’s examine one scenario.

Your local weather forecast promised snow, and lots of it, so you prepared by getting the shopping done early, perhaps laying in an extra load of wood for the fireplace. The storm’s blown in with a great fury, but the sound that you hear on the roof sure doesn’t sound like snow, and the rattling and pinging of something striking metal draws your attention to the front window. So you draw the curtains and look out, and see hail, pounding your car, golf ball-sized chunks leaving it looking like a teenager with a bad case of acne after a two-day chocolate binge. Luckily, you’re insured for this kind of stuff, aren’t you?

If you have a comprehensive auto insurance policy, the answer is a reassuring yes, and you’d best get on the phone and inform your car insurance agent about what’s happened. However, if you opted for the less expensive collision and liability only coverage to save money on the monthly premium, you’re going to be out-of-pocket for what could cost thousands to repair. Collision and liability-only insurance coverage is less expensive to carry, but there’s a reason for that, it covers fewer mishaps, so you’re less likely to file a claim on the policy.

What is comprehensive car insurance coverage?

Comprehensive auto insurance is, as the name implies, a policy that covers just about everything that could happen to your car, short of a collision. It’s simply, broad insurance protection, according to the definition supplied by InvestorWords. Its purpose is to cover physical damage and other financial losses that you incur due to something other than an accident, which is covered by the collision portion of your policy.

What does comprehensive insurance cover?

Comprehensive insurance covers the other things than can happen to your car, usually when it’s not being driven. For example, if a tree falls on your car during a windstorm. Depending on your car insurance policy comprehensive coverage could also include damage from events such as:

  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Flood
  • Malicious damage
  • Riots
  • Windshield damage
  • Earthquakes
  • Windstorm
  • Falling or flying objects
  • Explosions
  • Damage due to hitting an animal or bird
  • Hail

If you live in an area where hail is likely, then a comprehensive policy is wise to have, no matter the age of your car. Hail damage is estimated at nearly $1 billion in the United States, according to The National Severe Storms Laboratory. Hail is defined as ice that is a minimum of ¾ inches in diameter, but many hailstorms have produced hailstones as large as 3-1/2 inches, so the damage to your car can be quite substantial.

Why do I need comprehensive auto insurance coverage?

If you recently purchased or leased a new or used car (and financed the vehicle) then you probably have a comprehensive insurance policy in place, as required by the lender. The policy’s provisions allow you to have the car repaired to factory new condition, protecting the lender by ensuring that the car remains operational with sufficient coverage to pay for any damages.

How do I file a claim for hail damage?

Get in touch with your agent. The first thing to do in filing a claim is to get in touch with your agent who will likely walk you through the process. If the damage happened during a severe hailstorm, your insurer may have special operations or claim center set up for to handle the many claims that their policyholders will file.

Document the damage. At the very least, you’ll want to document the damage with photographs, and fill out the necessary claim forms. Again, your agent will be able to help you here, and tell you which forms are needed.

Get an estimate. Next, you’ll have to take the car to one or two repair shops for estimates, and then submit it to the agency for approval. Hail damage can be very expensive to repair, and it’s possible that your insurance agency’s risk assessor will come up with a different number than the repair shop came up with, so you may have to use your powers of friendly persuasion to reach an agreement that’s satisfactory to you.

Don’t be afraid to disagree, but arm yourself with a thorough understanding of the facts, it’ll go a long way toward getting the company to see it your way.

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