Will auto insurance cover your car's hail damage?

Written by Andrew Freiburghouse and Gary Bangstad on April 20, 2012 & Posted in Auto Insurance

A sudden storm appears and then out of nowhere hail starts to fall. Maybe it is as small as pebbles. Or perhaps it's as big as golf balls. Either way, it leaves your car with dents all over it and breaks a window.

The good news is that the damage is all cosmetic, so the car is drivable. The bad news is that you can't stand that your car looks like someone took a ball-peen hammer to it. Will your car insurance policy cover the damage?

If you have only liability coverage, which is all that most states require, you are out of luck. State financial responsibility laws require you to carry only liability insurance to cover any damages or injuries you cause others. Your state isn't concerned about your car and whether it's covered for damages.

To make sure hail damage is covered, you need comprehensive coverage. If you have financed your car, chances are your lender requires you to carry both comprehensive and collision coverage. If you own your car outright, you choose whether to carry these coverages on your vehicle.

Comprehensive is also known "other than collision" because it covers accidents and incidents that aren't covered by collision insurance. Comprehensive covers damage to your car associated with things like fire, vandalism, theft or striking an animal. It also covers damages from natural occurrences such as flooding, wind or hail.

These "acts of God" or "acts of nature" are covered by comprehensive, minus the deductible associated with this coverage. If you don't have comprehensive coverage, you'll be unable to make a claim with your car insurance company for your car's storm damage.

If you do have comprehensive coverage, make your claim and your car insurance company's claims adjuster will determine the extent of the damage. He or she will decide if the hail damage can be repaired or if it's so severe that your car will be totaled out.

A hail-damaged vehicle can be found to be a total loss if the cost of repairs makes it more economical for your auto insurance provider to pay you for the actual cash value of your car instead of fixing the vehicle.

Whether your car is repaired or totaled out by the hail damage, this claim isn't likely to affect your future auto insurance rates. Many states don't allow surcharges for comprehensive claims and even in states that do, many insurance companies don't raise rates for these types of claims, since you weren't negligent.

About the Author

Andrew Freiburghouse is a writer and businessman. As a partner at Los Angeles tax preparation firm Pronto Income Tax of California, Inc., Andrew has served thousands of clients both face to face and over the telephone. Currently, Andrew lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is in the process of starting up his own tax practice.

Gary P. Bangstad, Ed. D. is a freelance writer in the area of business and insurance. Previously, he worked for Midwest Financial Planning LTD, selling insurance and investment products. He has also taught music at the university level.

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