The answer depends on the type of insurance policy you have. The part of a car insurance policy that usually covers hail damage is called “comprehensive coverage.” If you only pay for liability coverage – or the minimum insurance required by your state – then hail damage probably isn’t covered.
With a liability-only policy, you’ll pay to repair any hail damage out of pocket.
As cold weather approaches you might be concerned about the effects of vicious weather on your prized automobile. Here, we’ll answer questions about hail damage like:
- What is hail?
- What is comprehensive coverage on a car insurance policy?
- Does my car insurance policy cover hail damage?
- Is hail damage a covered peril on my policy? How can I find out?
- Does my personal car insurance policy cover hail damage on a rental car?
- Handling hail damage claims
- Will a hail damage claim affect my insurance rates?
We’ll also explain how to read your insurance policy to discover if you’re protected against hail damage, and how to talk to an agent to add that coverage, if you want it.
Let’s get started with a quick definition of hail.
What is Hail?
Hail is falling ice balls. Per the US National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), hail is a specific form of precipitation that forms when a raindrop is pulled back up into the freezing areas of the atmosphere, before dropping down to earth again.
Hail balls can get big, as big as a fist or a baseball. And they fall from the sky quickly, so they can do a lot of damage to your vehicle.
Some Quick Hail Fun Facts
- Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska are known to have the most hailstorms.
- The area where these states meet is known as “hail alley” and gets seven to nine hail days in an ordinary year.
- Texas is known to incur the most property damage every year from hail.
- Insurers in Oregon pay the highest average claims and paid more than $859,000,000 in hail damage claims in the period between 2000 and 2013.
If you live in an area prone to hailstorms, it’s a good idea to have comprehensive coverage to protect your vehicle against hail damage.
What is Comprehensive Coverage on a Car Insurance Policy?
There are three main points of a car insurance policy. They are:
- Liability coverage – which pays for damage you might cause to property, or injuries to other people
- Collision coverage – which pays for physical damage to your vehicle after an accident
- And comprehensive coverage – that pays for other types of physical damages, like a tree limb falling on your car, theft and (usually) hail damage
Car insurance policies that have all three points are often called “full coverage policies.”
Other bells and whistles on an insurance policy are called “riders” or “endorsements” and pay for things like uninsured motorist damage or roadside assistance.
Does My Car Insurance Policy Cover Hail Damage?
If your policy includes comprehensive coverage, then you’re probably covered against hail damage. You’ll still need to pay a deductible, of course, when getting repairs done.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) says it best: “A deductible is an amount of money that [you] are responsible for paying toward an insured loss.” When a disaster strikes, the amount of the deductible is subtracted or “deducted” from your claim payment.
In other words, you’ll be responsible to pay for part of the hail damage, out of pocket.
Your deductible can range from $50 to $5,000. But in 2021, the industry standard is usually $500 or $1,000. If you don’t know your deductible amount, check the declarations page of your policy or call your agent. Remember, while a higher deductible might make your policy cost less, it also means you’ll need to keep that money in the bank all the time.
Is Hail Damage a Covered Peril on Your Insurance Policy?
We’ve already established that it’s the comprehensive coverage portion of your policy that will probably cover hail damage. But every insurer offers a different package, and hail might not be included. This is important if you live in an area prone to hailstorms.
There are two ways to find out if hail damage is covered by your insurance:
- Read your policy carefully
- Contact a licensed insurance agent and discuss it with them
Now let’s consider some trickier situations involving hail damage and vehicles.
Does Your Car Insurance Cover Hail Damage on a Rental Car?
Your personal car insurance policy will protect you in a rental car with the same coverages. Put another way, if your policy includes comprehensive coverage, and covers hail damage on your personal vehicle, then yes, it should cover hail damage on a rental care.
- Also, it’s worth knowing that a rental car coverage rider on your insurance policy is something else.
- That’s an endorsement that helps to pay for a rental while your vehicle is in the shop.
- It has nothing to do with your policy covering hail damage to a rented car.
So, read the fine print of the rental car policy and know your insurance policy. Many drivers feel better when purchasing the additional insurance available at the rental car desk – though that’s a topic for another day – it can help to pay for any damage you do to the car, but you want to specifically look for hail damage listed there too.
And remember, you’ll always be on the hook for a deductible when making any hail damage claim. The only exception would be a “vanishing deductible” rider, offered by a few insurers like Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide and The Hartford, and only in certain states.
Handling Hail Damage Claims
Hail damage can be extremely expensive to repair. And the claims process can seem frustrating or scary if this is your first hail damage claim. So let’s walk you through the process.
Imagine a Hailstorm Damaging Your Favorite Pickup Truck
Let’s imagine that you’re stuck on the highway during a brutal Nebraska hailstorm, in your brand-new pickup truck. For fun, let’s pretend it’s a new 2022 GMC Denali 3500, that cost $90,000 out the door. And you’re driving home after visiting your elderly parents on Christmas day.
The hail starts coming down HARD! And you’re in your dream truck!
You pull over to the shoulder of the road while the hail falls. Some ice balls are the size of a golf ball. They pound your truck for twenty minutes from above, and bounce back up from the road damaging your doors.
It’s loud, too. Between the thunder and the hail, it’s an earsplitting experience.
Eventually the Storm Clears
You drive home a little shakily, but you make it home safely. Upon exiting your truck, you see the hood, roof, bed, side mirrors and doors have been horribly dented and scratched. Even your bumper is beat up.
Your new truck looks like it went through a war!
You’re not happy that your brand-new truck is trashed. But thankfully, you have a full coverage car insurance policy that you’ve read carefully. You know the hail damage will be covered, less your $1,000 deductible.
Making a Claim for Hail Damage
Your first phone call is probably to your parents to let them know you’re home safe. Next, you call the insurance company. There’s usually a toll-free number on the back of your insurance card, or you might use your cell phone to get the number.
Expect to Answer a Lot of Questions
When the adjuster comes to inspect the damage, have your car parked in the shade or inside a garage. Bright sunlight can obscure dents resulting in an inaccurate assessment of the damage.
Your insurer will ask lots of questions about the storm and the hail damage. Then, they’ll provide you with a claim number. That number is important, because insurers deal with thousands of claims every day, so don’t lose it. If you need to contact your insurer about your claim, you’ll need to identify it with that number.
They may ask you take some pictures of your truck with your cell phone, and email those to your claims adjuster – a person specifically trained to assess damage and repair costs.
- We should also point out that claims adjusters and insurance agents are two entirely different jobs.
- Your agent can help you file a claim for hail damage.
- But they have different licenses and skills than an adjuster, so they cannot act as one.
Some insurers have online apps now, too. You might be able to file your hail damage claim online, without a long phone call. But eventually you’ll need to face an adjuster. Don’t worry, there’s nothing to be nervous about.
- After a few phone calls or emails, the claims adjuster will come visit the truck in person.
- They’ll take photos, verify the VIN and ask you to describe what happened.
- This damage is obviously from a hailstorm, and the adjuster knows there was a brutal storm on Christmas, so your claims adjuster approves your claim.
Next, you get a few quotes to repair the damage. Ultimately you choose the dealer service shop, because they’ll have the best access to brand new parts quickly, and you want your baby back ASAP!
So, What’s the Damage?
The total cost is $20,000 to repair the hood, roof, bed and sides, bumpers and side mirrors of the Denali, and repaint the whole truck. You’ll pay the first $1,000 deductible, and your insurance company will handle the remaining $19,000.
In this instance, the service manager tells you the whole process will take about three weeks. You’re happy that you have a rental car insurance rider that will help you pay for a rental car during that time.
And eventually, you get your truck back, good as new.
But what happens next? You might be wondering if this hail damage claim will affect your insurance prices later.
Will a Hail Damage Claim Affect my Car Insurance Rates?
Hail is not covered by your basic car insurance policy. It is considered a comprehensive claim. Because hail damage falls under the Act of God category, filing a single claim shouldn’t affect your premiums. Filing repeatedly claims might, however.
Insurance rates are far more complex than, say, the price of a gallon of milk. When you go to the store to buy milk, everyone in the store will pay the same price that day. You can buy one gallon or ten, they will all be the same price.
Car insurance is different. It’s a financial service, not a physical product.
When an insurance company provides you with a quote for car insurance, they’re taking risks. The risks are that you’ll hurt someone, damage something, or that the vehicle will get damaged.
So, insurers consider many details like:
- Your age (rates are highest for the youngest and eldest drivers)
- Marital status
- Profession and education
- Driving experience
- Your zip code
- How and where a vehicle is garaged
- The make, model, year of a vehicle
- The size, weight, and potential speed of a vehicle
- The cost of claims made by similar drivers in similar vehicles
Car insurance companies in some states can even look at your credit history! But perhaps most importantly, they always consider your claims history.
Risk, Underwriting and the Denali Hail Damage Claim
Getting back to the Denali, if this is your first insurance claim, or maybe your second in many years, your price for insurance will probably not increase.
However, your insurer will keep track of this insurance claim forever. Underwriters at your insurance company will use it to help create rates for other 2022 Denali drivers in Nebraska for years.
If you have another expensive hail damage claim, or if you get into an accident, your insurer might raise your rates or even non-renew your policy. Remember, they just paid $19,000 to repair your truck. They don’t want to do that again.
But the Hail Damage Claim Wasn’t My Fault!
Fault can be a complicated topic in the realms of insurance, too. You didn’t create the hailstorm, true. But from the insurer’s perspective, you should have stayed at your parent’s house after checking the weather. Or maybe you should have pulled under a highway overpass to avoid damage.
Sometimes “fault” is associated with the choice to drive in bad weather.
Insurance companies prefer the safest drivers. If you want to keep your rates low after a hail damage claim, always drive safely and sober.