Hail’s a fact of life. But you don’t often hear about hail damage repair.
What do loose change, sporting equipment, and small vegetables have in common? They are all frequently used in the description of hail stones during a severe thunderstorm. Pea-size hail might not feel great, but it isn’t going to do a lot of damage to person or property. Quarter-size hail and you should consider reviewing your insurance policy. Once you get into baseball and softball comparisons, you should probably go ahead and dial your adjuster.
Once the storm has completely cleared your area you should start by inspecting your car for damage. Try to do this in a shady area or while it is cloudy so you can better see any dents. After you have given it a once-over, consider whether or not you want to file a claim with your insurance. This will depend on quite a few factors. Most importantly, do you have comprehensive coverage? Do you own the car outright, or are you still paying for it? Is it a lease? Are you planning to resell it, or drive it into the ground? And of course, how much damage is there, and how much does a pristine car matter to you?
You’ll also want to consider your deductible and how much, if any, a claim would raise your insurance rate. If your windshield is broken check your policy for that specifically, some states have rules regarding glass repair and deductibles.
If you decide that you want to pursue a claim there are a few things to keep in mind. If you own your car outright you mostly likely have the right to cash the insurance company check and forgo repairs, but be aware that hail damage will significantly lower your resale value down the road, and though they are not supposed to, some insurance companies will offer you less money if they think you are going to pocket it.
If you plan to proceed with repairs, the severity of the damage will inform your choice. Light damage can be “popped” out with paintless dent repair, whereas significant damage will involve more extensive body work. Your insurance adjuster will help you navigate this process. You should also discuss what your options are as far as who does the repairs. Generally speaking, any reputable car repair company will be eligible. In most states there are actually laws on the books to ensure that you have control over who does your repairs. If you are not sure of a reputable company, ask around. A neighborhood email list or local friends are good places to start.
Consult your policy to find out if you are eligible for a rental car while your car is out of commission. The amount of time for repair will vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the extent of the damage as well as how many cars in your area were affected. After you have had any dents repaired make sure to take time to inspect your car again, and be aware of any warranties offered by the repair company.
Hopefully you will never need these tips, but for a large part of the country hail is a nuisance that can go from interesting phenomenon to car destroyer very quickly. May your skies be blue and your precipitation be liquid!