Dealing with the aftermath of vehicle hail damage can be tricky; it can be difficult to determine where to seek repairs and navigate insurance and file claims. Many drivers do not know if their hail-related damages are covered or if it’s even worth filing a claim with their insurance carrier at all. Let’s learn more about the specifics of insurance coverage and having your car repaired after suffering dents from hail damage.
Vehicle Hail Damage: Am I Covered?
First and foremost, it is important to understand whether your hail damage repair costs will be covered.
As long as you have comprehensive coverage before hail-related damages occur, your insurance carrier will front the costs after you’ve paid your deductible amount. Comprehensive policies cover “not-at-fault” incidents, such as acts of nature or damages that occur due to issues outside of collisions, but only if the policy was in place beforehand. You cannot purchase a comprehensive plan after the fact. Some carriers will extend this provision to extreme weather forecasts, meaning your comprehensive plan needs to be active before extreme weather makes the news otherwise resulting damages will not be covered.
What is the difference between comprehensive coverage and other auto insurance plans? There are three basic car insurance coverage plans: liability coverage, collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.
Liability plans cover costs if you are at fault; these plans cover damage to other parties’ vehicles as well as the other drivers’ and/or passengers’ medical expenses.
Collision coverage pays for damages to your vehicle in the event of a collision no matter who is at fault. Collision coverage will payout even if you are in a single-car collision (e.g., if you spin out of control and hit a guardrail).
Finally, comprehensive coverage will pay for non-collision related expenses, like windshield and glass repair, vandalism, theft, animal-related damages and acts of nature, including vehicle hail damage and hail dent repair.
Filing A Vehicle Hail Damage Claim: Is It Worth It?
Weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of filing a claim – in most cases, filing a claim is the preferred option. With comprehensive coverage, insurance companies do not raise your rates for filing a hail damage claim. In addition, depending on the extent of the damage, you may require a loaner vehicle while repairs ensue, and insurance companies generally contribute towards those costs or pay them in full.
Assess the damage and seek out estimates for repairs. Minor hail damage that has not cracked the vehicle’s paint can usually be repaired with paintless dent repair (PDR), a cost-effective repair solution that may not exceed high deductibles. However, the average auto insurance claim for hail damage is $3,000. Though these costs can fluctuate with the types of repairs needed to fix or cover up the damage, filing a claim is usually the best course of action since hail damage can be costly to fix.
The cost of repairs, the length of repair time and your need for a loaner vehicle will depend on the method of repair suitable for fixing the vehicle hail damage. Dents with cracked paint will require either replacement panels or traditional repairs. This entails injecting the dented area on cars with a filler – sanding, bonding then painting over the filled-in area. The process is time-consuming, labor-intensive and can get quite expensive.
Paintless dent repair, on the other hand, is cost-effective, maintains your vehicle’s value and is preferred by insurance companies when the hail has not cracked the paint. With just a few specialized tools, PDR technicians pop the frame or shell of your car back into its original position after precise, gentle massaging of the dented metal. PDR doesn’t just mask pockmarks and hail dents like conventional repairs. Plus, experts can complete the entire paintless dent repair process in an average of two hours, typically the same day, meaning you may not need a loaner vehicle.
Even if your vehicle is eligible for paintless dent repairs, the nature of hail damage will generally exceed deductible costs.
In summary, even though the type, length and cost of repairs will vary depending on the damage and chosen repair method, filing an insurance claim is most often the wisest choice.
Determining Your Course of Action
If the damage to your car following a hailstorm is particularly subtle, it may cross your mind just to leave it – and avoid insurance claims, repairs, and maintenance altogether. There are a few reasons why that is not a good idea.
- Any hail damage has the potential to lower the resale value of your car. Potential buyers are likely to seek savings elsewhere, not on a hail damaged vehicle. Dents in the surface panels can indicate underlying structural damage to your vehicle, whereas conventional repairs that mask that damage will still end up on your Carfax report, since structural damage can severely impact your car’s integrity and worth.
- Visible damage may also interfere with future insurance claims. While minor hail dents may not trouble you, insurance carriers may deny claims for vehicles with existing damage. Keep up on repairs to make sure you are eligible to file claims following a collision or any other qualifying event.
To make the decision that’s best for you now and in the long run, weigh the pros and cons, determine if your insurance policy covers repairs and have a professional evaluate suitability for traditional repairs or paintless dent repair. Navigating the insurance process can be difficult – Dent Shop accepts all insurance and can help you file your vehicle hail damage insurance claim. Contact us today for trusted hail damage repairs and free estimates from Dent Shop’s skilled PDR technicians.