Violent winds rip through your area, snapping branches and uprooting trees. Luckily, your home was not damaged, but your car was — from hail. Hail damage often accompanies violent windstorms, leaving much destruction in its wake. Your car’s finish has taken a beating with scores if not hundreds of dings across its entire surface.
Body repair is in order, but will your car insurance cover the damage? It will if you have comprehensive auto insurance coverage, what provides protection in the event of physical damage for incidents other than a collision involving the insured car.
Comprehensive Car Insurance
Comprehensive car insurance is not accident insurance and it differs from liability coverage. Its purpose is to protect you from non-accident related incidents including animal strikes; falling objects; hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes; as well as vandalism and theft.
Comprehensive coverage is not required unless your car has a lien on it and your lender demands it, naming them as loss payee. Bodily injury and property damage liability coverage are required while some states will also require drivers to have personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage.
Hail Damage Claim
If you have comprehensive coverage, then you can file a hail damage claim with your insurance company. Before you contact your insurer you may want to consider the advice of John Phillips, a Jacksonville, Fla., attorney who handles a variety of automobile claims.
Said Phillips, “If your car is damaged by hail, we recommend you to write down the date, time and location when the damage occurred. This may be verified by historical weather reports. This may be useful later if there are any disputes about the cause of the dents.” Once you document everything, then begin the claims process with your insurer.
Phillips also advises claimants to ready their vehicles for adjuster inspection by parking in the garage or in the shade. He notes, “Bright lights can hide dents in the glare and reflection.”
So what kind of work can you expect to have done on your vehicle? In most cases paintless dent repair will be sufficient to repair hail damage, a method preferred by insurance companies as it is cheaper than regular body repair. This process employs specialized tools used to pull out dents without marring the finish.
Still, you may be able to persuade your insurance adjuster to pay for more comprehensive body repair as you point out the deep dents that warrant a new paint job. Ronny C. Jetmore, principal of the Jetmore Insurance Group, Inc., of Lusby, Md., notes that if your paint job was in poor shape to begin with, you might prefer to pocket the insurer’s settlement offer. He explains, however, that if you have filed “another claim or two in the last three years” your latest claim might affect your insurance rates. Keep in mind that there is also a deductible that has to be met before a settlement is given.
Some motorists may find themselves in for an unpleasant surprise when filing an insurance claim. Thomas J. Simeone, a personal injury attorney and part-time law professor in Washington, DC, warns consumers, “…if the policy has the auto as “garaged,” the insured should provide a defensible reason why the vehicle was not garaged at the time of the damage. Either it was away from the house or something else prevented it from being in the designated garage.” Simeone added, “Insurance companies often look for reasons to deny a claim and a policy holder’s representations when taking out the policy can often come back to haunt them.”
Avoiding hail damage to your car may not be possible, especially if a storm appears suddenly. In that case you will want to get you and your loved ones to safety, knowing that your car insurance company has you covered. That is, if you chose comprehensive coverage when you took out your auto insurance policy.