This summer has been was one hail of a season.
A hail storm in central Texas touched down bringing with it hail and 60 mph winds. Some unlucky Montana residents had a thunderstorm that brought down hail the size of tennis balls. The National Severe Storms Laboratory issued warnings for South Florida as increased thunderstorms can lead to flash floods, high winds and yes, hail. And last night, the town of Guadalajara, Mexico, experienced a "freak" hail storm that dropped 6 feet of ice burying cars and homes. Hello, June.
If your car is damaged in a hail storm, be sure you have enough car insurance coverage to pay for any repair costs.
When is hail season?
Hail can come at any time of the year, though it's rare to see hail storms during the winter months because conditions are usually too dry for hail storms. Hail-producing storms often occur during the spring and into the summer and fall as moisture enters the atmosphere from the Gulf of Mexico.
The majority of hail is reported from May to September.
Is hail damage covered under my insurance policy?
Most vehicle insurance policies cover hail damage, depending on the type of coverage you carry. There are two main types of insurance coverage: collision and comprehensive.
If your policy includes collision insurance, this means your insurance company will pay to fix other vehicles if you are at fault in an accident.
The other type of insurance is called comprehensive, and it pays for damage to your vehicle that isn't connected to an accident with another vehicle. Comprehensive coverage fixes your car when it experiences events like vandalism, theft and, yes, hail.
However, it's important to remember that you may need to pay a deductible before your comprehensive coverage kicks in to assist with car repairs.
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Top states for hail
The United States reported 4,611 major hail storms in 2018, and 2,551 have been reported so far in 2019, according to NOAA’s National Weather Service. The damage to property and crops from hail storms is around $1 billion every year.
The Insurance Information Institute cites that the most hail events in the United States in 2018 occurred in Texas, Kansas and Colorado. Nebraska and South Dakota round out the list of top five states experiencing hail that year.
The section of the United States that runs from the panhandle of Texas north to South Dakota is known as "hail alley."
Top 10 States for Hail
|State||Hail Storms Reported|
Source: NOAA, 2018 Severe Weather Report Database
However, hail storms can occur in any month and in any location if the conditions are favorable. If you live in a hail-prone area, it’s especially important to take a fresh look at your car insurance policy to ensure you're protected from hail damage.
A ‘total loss’ of your vehicle
It’s no surprise that a hail storm can put some big nasty dents in your car or break a window or two. And in fact, the severity of hail damage may actually cause your insurer to declare your car a "total loss.”
A total loss occurs when the repairs to the vehicle are too high when compared to the value of the car.
In 2017, the Insurance Journal reported that a hail storm lasting 30 minutes caused an astounding $4 million in damage to brand new cars on a Subaru lot, as well as $500,000 in damage to the dealership's buildings.
According to the dealership's car director, no exterior surface was spared from hail damage with the storm destroying everything from roofs to side mirrors and windshields. Hail the size of golf balls hit more than 300 cars on the lot.
How do I pay for repairs from hail damage?
If your car sustains damage from hail and you have comprehensive insurance coverage, you will make a claim to your insurance company to begin the repair process.
To make a claim:
- Take photographs of your vehicle and its damage.
- Locate your insurance policy and your policy number.
- Call your insurance company to open a claim.
- Work with a body shop to repair the damage.
- Pay your deductible and let your insurance cover the rest.
If the repairs to your car are very minor, there are also some do-it-yourself options such as dent repair kits.
Can I protect my car from hail damage?
Access to a garage is one of the best ways to protect a vehicle from hail, but not everyone has a garage or covered parking area. Many families have to park on the street or in the driveway.
Another interesting option for protecting a car against hail is a special car cover that's thick enough to protect the car from impact. These covers are certainly not a guarantee that your car will escape all potential damage from hail, but it can help minimize the damage that occurs during a hail storm.
Review your car insurance policy
If you're worried about the cost of hail damage to your car, it’s definitely a good time to examine your car insurance policy. Take a close look at the types of coverage you have and the amounts.
Don't be afraid to give your insurance company a call if you're uncertain about your coverage or coverage amounts. Remember, you can switch your car insurance at anytime. If you compare quotes and find a better deal, make the switch.