With climate change causing bigger storms and more violent weather, the chances of having your car damaged by hail is definitely on the rise. If you find yourself driving down the road and “golf balls” suddenly start bouncing of the roof of your car, here’s what you need to know.
If the hail is small and the storm fairly mild, it may be safe to keep driving, at least until you can get to a sheltered area. If the hail is large enough to damage your car or make the roads unsafe, try to locate an overpass or somewhere safe nearby to pull over and wait out the storm. Once the storm passes, check the extent of the damage to your vehicle to make sure it is still safe to drive. For example, you don’t want to be driving with a cracked windshield or damage so severe that it compromises the structural integrity of the car. When you resume driving, watch out for downed power lines, unexpected deep water on the road, and other hazards that can occur when large amounts of water or ice fall in a very short period of time.
Evaluate the Extent of the Damage
The results of getting caught in a hailstorm can range from almost nothing to damage so severe the car needs to be declared a salvage vehicle. If you’re lucky, you might get away with a few minor dings that can be easily repaired. However, there’s a reason hail damage insurance claims are on the rise, and that’s because hail can cause a lot damage, with repair costs running in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
When it comes to damage, it’s always best to have it repaired by a qualified auto body shop.
Check Your Insurance Policy
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the “liability” portion of your insurance policy automatically covers hail damage because it doesn’t. If your auto policy includes “comprehensive” coverage, then the insurance company will pay for the repairs, minus the deductible. However, many people (especially those with older cars) don’t include comprehensive on their policies in order to lower the premiums. So be sure to check whether you have coverage before submitting a claim.
To Repair or Not to Repair
In addition to your insurance coverage (or lack of), there are many other things to consider when deciding whether or not to repair the hail damage to your car.
- Appearance of your car. If the car is relatively new and still looking good, most people will want to keep it that way, especially if the cost won’t take too big of a bite out of your bank account.
- Trade-in value. If your car was in good shape prior to the hailstorm, repairing the damage will the maximum trade-in or resale value of your car.
- If hail has caused structural damage to your car and you plan to keep it, the decision to repair the damage becomes a no-brainer.
The best way to avoid the time and expense of fixing hail damage is to prevent it in the first place. If you live in an area prone to frequent hailstorms, learn to identify the signs of an approaching hailstorm so you can avoid being on the road at that time or take cover before it’s too late. When out and about, park your car in a garage or other protected area when possible. If you park your car outside at home, consider using a car cover to minimize any damage from hail.
Even with these precautions, you never know when you will get caught in a sudden hailstorm, so make sure to have insurance to protect against costly hail damage.
If the unwanted does happen and you need professional auto body repairs due to hail damage, bring your car to your nearest Fix Auto location. We’ll have your car looking good and back on the road in a jiffy.