There is nothing worse than seeing your car damaged by hail during a hail storm. The continuous pummeling of your investment by hail stones of all shapes and sizes is heartbreaking.
Dealing with the aftermath of a storm can be just as bad if you do not know what to do. So, what do you do after your vehicle is damaged by hail?
We have taken all the confusion out of it and come up with three simple steps that will put your mind at ease knowing your vehicle is going to get fixed properly.
Taking steps to preventing hail damage on your vehicle is important when it comes to hail damage. However, if you weren’t able to prevent the damage during the storm. Here are three important steps to take if your vehicle has been damaged by a hail storm.
Document The Damage
This is the most important step of the entire process. After the storm is over and it is safe to go outside grab your camera. Thankfully cellphones make this step easy for us to do at this time of age. Before you touch anything, take photos of your vehicle from all angles.
Take overall photos first of all sides of the vehicle, drivers side, passenger side, front, and rear. Next take images of all the individual body panels that have been damaged. It is important to make sure that your camera angle is okay.
It may be possible to take pictures that do not show the damage very well. Play with the camera angle and lighting to try and show the dents and damage in the best possible way.
Also take pictures of any windows or glass that has been damaged or shattered. Once you have taken images of the outside hail damage, open the doors if safe and move to the interior.
Inspect the interior for any damage that may be present. It is not very common for this to happen, but if you have had glass shatter it is possible. The glass may have caused damage to the inside of the vehicle.
If possible during the storm try and take a video or photos of the hail as it damages your vehicle. This will give you good evidence to provide to the insurance company as you file your claim.
Also if you are comfortable, a video of an exterior and interior walkaround of the vehicle is good to have as well. The more images and videos the better in this situation.
Contact Your Insurance Company
The damage to your vehicle after a hail storm can be significant. State Farm reported in 2021 that the average hail claim had risen by 16% to $5000 per claim. This is per vehicle, that damage on your vehicle may look small but it can be costly to repair.
Hail damage may be covered by your vehicle’s insurance policy. Hail damage is generally covered under the comprehensive insurance category or if you have included an optional all risk coverage.
Most people assume their insurance will increase if they make a claim. Because hail damage is covered under the comprehensive section, this generally does not cause an increase in your premiums. However, if you make a lot of comprehensive claims your insurance company can deny the coverage in the future.
With all insurance questions, please contact your local insurance specialist before making a claim so you know what will happen after.
Depending on how bad the damage is you may want to also check your deductible. Most people have $500-$1000 deductibles on their insurance. This means you have to pay the deductible before they pay the rest.
If the damage to your vehicle was minor and would only cost $700 to repair. It would not make sense to claim. Simply due to the deductible you would have to pay would be higher than the repair cost.
After the insurance company has taken a look at the vehicle and you have proved to them that the vehicle was damaged you will need to begin repairs.
Do not take your vehicle to any body shop without recommendations. Look for a body shop that is industry certified.
Some body shops that are uncertified may do some very poor repairs. For example, filling small hail dents with body filler. The vehicle will look really good for a short period of time until it starts to deteriorate.
Once you find a certified body shop, your vehicle may be repaired in two different ways. Conventional dent repair or paintless dent repair.
Conventional dent repair will see a body shop replacing body panels that are badly damaged. On other panels they may hammer out the dents as best as they can before smoothing out the surface with small amounts of body filler.
Paintless dent repair technicians remove interior body panels to gain access to all the panels on your vehicle. Using years of experience and a series of metal rods they will “pry” or finesse the panels back to their original locations.
I have seen paintless dent repair done. Let me tell you, it almost seems like magic when a good technician is working. The dents disappear into the paint never to be seen again.
The damage that is present will determine what type of repair your vehicle will need. If the paint was chipped or damaged, conventional dent repair will work best.
If the paint is not damaged, paintless dent repair will be used to remove all of those hail dents that are present.
As you can imagine this process takes a long time to complete. Expect your vehicle to be in the shop for 1-3 weeks for the repairs to be completed. Depending on how widespread the damage was in your area it could take even longer to complete.
Some large hail storms damage thousands of cars at a time. As you can imagine, this takes some time to get all these repairs done.
Hopefully this gives you a better idea of the important steps if your vehicle is damaged by hail.