Auto Insurance & Hail Claims FAQ
Does Auto Insurance Cover Hail Damage Repairs?
If you have comprehensive coverage, to cost to repair dents and dings in your car’s body, a cracked or shattered windshield, and interior water damage caused by hail. If you only have auto liability coverage, the damage to repair your car is not covered.
Do I have to pay a deductible for auto hail damage?
Comprehensive coverage usually comes with a deductible, the amount you’ll pay out of pocket when you make a claim. Deductibles are determined at the time you purchase car insurance on your vehicle. The Insurance Information Institute (III) says having a higher deductible on your policy may help lower your premium. However, if you live in an area where hailstorms occur more often, you may want to consider whether you can afford the out-of-pocket deductible after a hail claim.
It’s also helpful to know that, under some circumstances, your insurer may waive the deductible on the glass portion of your comprehensive coverage. For instance, if the glass is repaired, rather than replaced, your insurer may waive the deductible. Additionally, you may be able to buy full glass coverage as part of your policy, which typically means you won’t have to pay a deductible on glass claims. Check with your agent to see if these options are available on your policy.
Regardless of your deductible amount, it is almost certain the cost to repair your hail damaged vehicle will exceed your deductible. Learn more about our deductible assistance program.
Will filing a hail damage claim raise my insurance rates or premium?
The single greatest influence on the rating process is claim frequency. This does not mean how many times you specifically have made an insurance claim, although that will have an additional effect. Claim frequency measures how often an insured event occurs within a group relative to the number of policies contained in that group. Persons sharing characteristics with high claims groups will be charged more for insurance coverage.
Can I file a hail damage claim & just keep the money instead of getting the repairs?
Yes & no. If you carry a lien on the vehicle, the bank or financial institution will require that you get the hail damage repaired. In this case, most insurance policies will only send you a check once the repairs have been made. The check will be written to the both the car owner and the financial institution that carries the loan. If you own the vehicle outright, it is up to you what you do with the insurance check. If you choose to live with the hail damage, you run the risk of getting far less money for your vehicle if and when you attempt to resell it. They know the dates, the severity of the storm, and the size of dents that resulted from each particular storm. Unfortunately, even though each occurrences are comprehensive claims, they are separate incidents. You will have to pay deductibles for each occurrence if your policy is set up with a deductible on comprehensive coverage.
Multiple hail claims?
In some states, multiple hail claims in a 3 month period of time isn’t all that uncommon. All claims made within a three-year period are considered “multiple claims” on your claim history by your insurance company. Some car owners that live in hail storm prone areas will assume that if they hold off filing a hail claim until the end of hail season will save them the cost of multiple deductibles in case their vehicle was damaged in multiple storms. It is assumed that if they file a singular claim for multiple storms, they will only have to pay one deductible. This is incorrect. Insurance adjusters that work in these hail prone areas know how many damaging hail storms have afflicted that area.
However, there are exceptions. For instance, if your car is damaged by hail and a tree branch falls on your vehicle during the same storm and damages the windshield, your insurance company might be willing to charge a single deductible because the same storm caused the damage.
The Auto Hail Repair Process
- File Claim. Contact your insurance company to file a claim. You will get a claim number.
- Claim Review. The insurance company will review the details of your claim, determine if the incident is covered, and assess the loss or damage.
- Insurance Adjuster Inspection. An insurance adjuster will inspect the vehicle and give you a claim report.
- Paintless Dent Repair / Auto Body Shop Inspection.
- Schedule Repairs. Some estimates will call for paintless dent repair, traditional auto body repairs, or both. Hail damage, unless very severe, won’t typically require repairs at an auto body shop. If the estimate is written in include auto body shop panel replacements, check with your local paintless dent repair shop to see if this is an additional service they offer. More than likely, more than 90% of the repairs required will be performed with paintless dent repair.
- In-Shop Repairs. A repair and install team will remove interior panels to prep for paintless dent repair. Once the car is ready a PDR technician will use specialized process and tools to gently massage the dents out from the inside panels of the car. After all of the panels have been fixed the repair and install team will re-assemble the panels. At this point, quality control will inspect and wash the vehicle.
- Delivery. After 3 to 5 business days, your vehicle will be returned in pre-damaged condition with a written lifetime warranty.
Hail Damage Inspections & Estimates
When an insurance adjuster or dent repair shop inspect your vehicle for dents & dings caused by hailstones. A standard hail estimate will take approximately 30-45 minutes. At this time, the estimator notates the severity and number of dents on all panels. Upon completion of the assessment, you will be given a digital or printed copy of the quote.
The initial inspection is scheduled with an insurance adjuster who is assigned by your insurance company when you file your auto hail damage claim.
Your insurance companies contact information for filing a claim can be found on your glovebox insurance card or you can click here to visit our comprehensive list of insurance company hail claims filing options.
Insurance Adjuster Inspection & Estimate
When you call your insurance company to file a hail claim, you will be assigned an insurance adjuster that will handle the claim. Adjusters are unique to cities and state – hired by your insurance company. Some are independent and others work for the insurance company.
Typically, the adjuster will contact you within 24 hours to a week. They will set up a time to come to your location for the inspection. If the storm that damaged your vehicle was of a catastrophic level, you might be directed to a parking lot for a “drive through” inspection.
Paintless Dent Repair Inspection & Estimate
After you have your vehicle inspected by the insurance adjuster, you will be instructed to find a local paintless dent repair shop to do the repairs.
Notice: If you are instructed to use a PDR shop on a preferred vendor list, this is called “insurance steering.” Insurance steering is illegal for many reasons. Learn more here.
Next, the paintless dent repair shop will ask you to bring in your vehicle for an inspection or they will send a PDR specialist to your home or office. If the damage is severe, it is better to bring your vehicle to the shop. Paintless dent repair shops have special lighting that they use to see the hail dents that cannot be seen with the naked eye. This is the number one reason you should ALWAYS get an assessment from a professional paintless dent repair shop. A professional will almost always find 25-40% additional damage that wasn’t accounted for by the insurance adjuster.
Insurance Totaled My Hail Damaged Vehicle
What happens to the title of a hail damaged vehicle?
There are a couple of things that will happen to the title of a totaled vehicle. The title will be marked as “salvage.” This information will show up on the vehicles Carfax.
This is what your insurance will do for you if they declare your vehicle totaled. If the insurance company totals your car, they will pay you the car’s actual cash value, minus your deductible. Next, the vehicle is then sent to a salvage yard to be auctioned off to the highest bidder and usually chopped up for parts. The insurance company keeps whatever money was paid for the vehicle.
Can I keep my car if the insurance company declared it totaled?
Yes. If you decide to keep your totaled vehicle, you will need to buy it from your insurance company at the salvage value. The salvage value is calculated using this formula.
Pre-Damaged Value (-) Salvaged Value (-) Deductible = Your Cost
If you purchase a car with a salvaged title and intend to drive it, you will need to get it inspected to insure it’s safety on the road. Additionally, a car with a salvage title is difficult to insure for comprehensive and collision coverages because its value is difficult to determine.