Has your car survived a hailstorm looking worse for wear? You aren’t the only one. Every year, over a million hail damage insurance claims are filed in the United States alone. Hail damage is expensive to repair, but unrepaired damage can cost car owners more money in the long run.
The average devaluing of a car due to hail damage runs at $250 per dent, with moderate damage lowering the value of a car $3,000 and severe damage resulting in a total-loss (vehicle becoming essentially worthless at resale). In general, the devaluation of the car runs about the same as the cost of repairs.
- Types of Hail Damage Repairs
- Paintless Repairs
- Painted Bodywork Repairs
- How Much Does Hail Damage Cost to Repair?
- When Does Insurance Not Cover Hail Damage?
- The Coverage Has Already Been Used Before.
- How is the Value of a Car Assessed?
- What Is a Total Loss or Salvage Title?
- Why Can’t I Pocket the Insurance Money?
- Should I Pocket the Insurance Money? The Benefits of Choosing Repairs
- Maintain Car Resale Value
- Maintain Vehicle Integrity
- How to Avoid Hail Damage?
- Be Proactive
- Shelter and Secure the Car
- Invest in Comprehensive Insurance
Types of Hail Damage Repairs
Hail damage repairs come in two general subsets: paintless and painted bodywork repairs.
Paintless repairs generally come with more minor hail damages. This repair is commonly known as PDR. This type of repair is faster, cheaper, and less invasive than paint repairs. PDR involves metalworking techniques that restore the frame to its original shape without filling dents and painting dents.
Painted Bodywork Repairs
Painted bodywork repairs are the traditional method of restoring a car from hail damage. This method requires more manual labor and intricate body working to repair the car.
The process takes several days on average between filling dents and painting the car. It is, however, the most effective method for significant hail damage and deeper dents.
How Much Does Hail Damage Cost to Repair?
The actual cost of hail damage repairs depends on several factors, including:
Number and Size of Dents
The larger and deeper a dent is, the more it costs. The more dents on a car, the more it costs to repair. On average, minor dents may cost as little as $75 to repair, while larger ones can range into $150 or more.
Number of Panels Damaged
Hail inspection professionals rate a car’s damage by breaking the car down into a series of panels during a hail damage inspection. Each panel damaged raises the price of repairs.
Professionals factor in the hours it takes to remove damaged materials and replace or install new ones into the repairs’ cost. Labor prices go up when repairs require painting and refinishing.
The hail inspection factors the actual cost for any new parts, including windshields, wiper blades, lights, bumpers, etc., into the final cost of repairs.
Both state and local tax may apply to the hail damage price.
While auto insurance typically covers most hail damages under a policy, you must still cover some damages as the policyholder. Generally, you must pay a deductible to the repair contractor or your insurance company before insurance pays the remainder of the damages. The deductible usually ranges from $500-$1,500, depending on the policy.
When Does Insurance Not Cover Hail Damage?
The Policy Doesn’t Cover It.
Most insurance companies offer hail coverage under their comprehensive policy. Comprehensive policies cover both liability, collision, and other damages.
Your car insurance may not cover hail damage if you have chosen to carry only liability or collision coverage.
Most states legally require drivers to have liability coverage, and if you get into an accident without it, you’ll face tickets and fines in addition to your car damages. Liability coverage only covers damages incurred by the liable, at-fault party from a car accident.
Collision coverage only takes care of damages incurred during an accident.
Hail damage generally falls into the “Acts of God” category, meaning liability and collision policies do not cover them. Some insurance providers require you to purchase hail or weather-related damages as a rider to your plan, but most comprehensive plans cover hail damage.
The Coverage Has Already Been Used Before.
Sometimes hail damage is treated as a surprise cash flow. Some people choose to pocket the money from hail damage, but later, when more severe damage occurs, they find that their insurance company will only cover the new damage.
The Damage Is Pre-Existing
Used cars come with baggage. If you’ve purchased a used car with pre-existing hail damage, the insurance company won’t pay for that damage.
How is the Value of a Car Assessed?
When repairing hail damage, you will often hear the words “car value” thrown around in the repair shop. Hail damage devalues a car exponentially, but most people do not know how a car’s value is determined in the first place.
The insurance company plays a role in deciding what your car is worth and how much money they will pay for repairs to it. Insurance companies will not pay more in repairs than a car is worth. Most insurance companies and car dealers judge the worth of a vehicle based on these characteristics:
The actual value is the insurance industry’s method of evaluation that accounts for depreciation from the below factors, which dictates a car’s worth. The actual value invariably lowers the moment a new car drives off the lot.
Age of the Car
As cars age, their value generally depreciates. This is not necessarily the case with collectible cars, but in general, older cars cost more to repair than to keep.
Cars with more mileage are worth less than lower mileage vehicles. Higher mileage reduces the actual value of a vehicle.
Make and Model
A high-end car like a Rolls Royce or Lincoln will be worth more than a brand new Toyota. The make and model of a car determines a large part of its actual value.
Previous damages, wear and tear, and general deterioration of a vehicle helps determine its actual value. Everything from worn-out carpets to stained seats reduces the value of a car.
What Is a Total Loss or Salvage Title?
When the cost to repair a vehicle supersedes its actual worth, insurance companies may deem the car a total loss.
Generally, insurance companies declare vehicles whose damages are more than 80% of the car’s worth as total losses. Some states have different guidelines determining what a total loss is, but usually, the damage must be more than 65% of the car’s worth to be a “total” loss.
Salvage titles often go hand in hand with a total loss. A salvage title identifies a vehicle as being a total loss and uninsurable. When an owner keeps a salvage-titled car, it may not be legally drivable, covered by insurance, or even safe to drive. Each state has different rules on what qualifies as a salvage-titled vehicle and how the vehicle may be used.
Why Can’t I Pocket the Insurance Money?
When an insurance adjuster calls saying they’ll cover $5,000 of hail damage and ask where to send the check, most car owners are in shock. After the shock, they’re wondering if they can just put up with the hail damage and use that money for something else.
Actually, sometimes you can just keep the money and forgo repairs. But, it depends on your situation.
If you are leasing a car or have an active car loan, you can’t keep the money. Instead, your insurance provider will write a check to the lender, usually with your name on it as well. In this case, you have two options.
Option One: Get the Repairs
If you have an active loan or lease, you can choose to get the repairs done. Usually, the insurance company pays the restoration specialist directly instead of juggling you, the lender, and the repair company.
Option Two: Apply the Money to the Loan
The second option is to apply the insurance check to your car lease or loan amount. In extreme hail damage, some car loans may even be paid off by the insurance check. If that’s the case, your lender will initiate a transfer of title once the funds have applied to your loan.
Should I Pocket the Insurance Money? The Benefits of Choosing Repairs
Now, if you completely own your vehicle, the option to pocket the money and forgo repairs is yours. But, it’s essential to weigh the benefits of repairs over the extra cash.
Maintain Car Resale Value
Your car is an investment. If you’re planning on ever selling the car, you need to maintain its value. A car with hail damage won’t pay back your investment.
Maintain Vehicle Integrity
Perhaps most importantly, hail damage repairs protect the car in the long run. Damages build on each other over time, and as your vehicle faces more rain, hail, or fender benders, the vehicle will start to wear down.
Rust may develop, dents may get bigger, and the car may break down in extreme circumstances. Sometimes keeping the insurance money is the best choice for you, but be sure to weigh the variables before cashing that check.
How to Avoid Hail Damage?
After repairing your car from hail damage, you’re probably wondering how to prevent future damages. There are some steps you can take.
During the rainy season, check the weather for any chances of rain for the week. Pack some extra blankets or a car cover to take with you to put on your parked vehicle for the day. Layers of blankets help prevent minor hail damage and reduce severe damages.
Shelter and Secure the Car
If possible, park your vehicle in sheltered parking. If hail strikes while driving, find a bridge or shelter to wait inside for the hail to end.
Invest in Comprehensive Insurance
If you don’t already have comprehensive auto coverage or a hail damage rider, get one. Hail damage happens suddenly, and if your car isn’t covered for hail the day it happens, the insurance company won’t cover repairs.
Hail damage is an expensive ordeal that can drastically reduce a car’s resale value. Be sure to take steps to get the hail damage repaired and prevented in the future.