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Hail damage: Are you covered?

By Posted : 05/11/2015

HailstormWill my car insurance cover my vehicle if it’s damaged by a hailstorm or a tornado smashing something up against it?

Yes, your auto insurance will cover the cost of repairs or the total loss of your car due to severe weather, but only if you had comprehensive coverage on your vehicle before the damage was sustained.

A bare-bones car insurance policy will contain only liability coverage, which gives you no protection for your vehicle.  Liability coverage pays out to those that you harm in an accident; it doesn’t cover your injuries or your vehicle in any way.

To have your vehicle protected by your car insurance policy, you need to buy physical damage coverage.  The two types of physical damage coverage are collision and comprehensive.

Collision covers your car when you hit, or are hit by, another car or object, regardless of whether you are at fault.  It also covers single-car crashes, such as rolling your vehicle down an embankment.

Comprehensive is also known as “other than collision” coverage because it covers events that are not covered by your collision coverage.  This includes striking an animal, fire, theft, vandalism and damages from severe weather or natural disasters – such as hail, windstorm, hurricane or tornado.

If you have comprehensive coverage and need to make a claim for damage your vehicle sustained in severe weather, your deductible amount will be due.  Comprehensive claims are typically regarded as not-at-fault incidents and are not as likely to affect your future car insurance rates as collision claims are.

If you don’t have comprehensive on your vehicle, you can compare car insurance quotes to see how much it will cost to add it on.  Just be sure to do buy this additional coverage before a severe weather alert goes out (such as a hurricane watch or warning) or insurers may put in place temporary restrictions that keep you from adding physical damage coverages, lowering deductibles or increasing limits on existing policies or purchasing a new policy.

April is the worst month for hail claims

The most insurance claims for hail damage are filed in April, followed by May and June, as spring weather moves through the Midwest and South Central U.S., according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration recorded 188 separate hailstorms in 2014, down slightly from 220 the year before. One hailstorm can damage tens of thousands of cars.

These are the states where hail damage claims are most frequent, says the NICB:

  1. Texas
  2. Missouri
  3. Kansas
  4. Colorado
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Illinois
  7. Tennessee
  8. Indiana
  9. Arizona
  10. Kentucky

The average hail claim is about $3,000 – but light hail damage might not be enough even to meet your deductible, while heavy hail damage, though mostly cosmetic, can total even a brand-new car.

 

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