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Hail damage: Are you covered?

By Posted : April 16, 2018

Does car insurance cover hail damage?

hail damageYes, your auto insurance will cover the cost of repairs or the total loss of your car due to hail damage or other 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.

How much does comprehensive insurance cost?

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.  According to a rate analysis by Insurance.com, the average cost of just state minimum coverage, enough to drive legally but not enought to pay for damage to your car or for major accidents, is $526. You'll pay about $800 more a year ($67 a month) to boost protection to full coverage, which includes the following, and costs $1,355, on average:

  • medical costs of $100,000 per person, up to $300,000 per accident for those you injure
  • $100,000 to pay for others' property damage
  • comprehensive and collision

Comprehensive and collision are rarely sold separately, but the average cost for just comprehensive coverage is $172 a year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

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.

Worst states for hail damage 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.

These are the states where hail damage claims are most frequent, for 2016, the latest year for which data are available, says the NICB:

  1. Texas
  2. Colorado
  3. Nebraska
  4. Missouri
  5. Illinois
  6. Kansas
  7. Minnesota
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Indiana
  10. Oklahoma

Will a hail damage claim raise my auto insurance rates?

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.

If your car does sustain severe damage that's enough to exceed your deductible by a significant amount, you should file a claim, but it won't necessarily raise your rates. "Generally, comprehensive claims won't trigger a rate hike," says Penny Gusner, Insurance.com consumer analyst. That's because insurers typically deem severe weather events and other perils covered by comprehensive to be beyond your control. "Keep in mind that even if your rates can’t be raised due to a hail claim, the number of claims placed against your policy can affect your rates," says Gusner.  "If you have recently filed other claims for an accident, the total amount of claims made could cause you to be seen as a higher risk, and thus you’ll pay more."

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