Hail damage and Car Insurance

Car been battered by a storm? Your car insurance policy could cover that.

If Mother Nature has decided to give you grief and damage your car, you might be wondering if your car insurance will cover any damages.

You should be covered for hail and storm damage if you've got comprehensive cover.

You probably won't be covered if you don't have comprehensive cover.

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3 ways to protect your car from storms and hail

If you know what’s coming you can take steps to save your car.

1. Know when bad weather is coming

There are two main ways you can stay ahead of the weather.

Once you know it’s coming, you have time to prepare accordingly.

2. Park your car somewhere safe

If there’s a hailstorm rolling in you might want to get your car under cover. When in doubt, it might be as easy as finding an undercover car park.

Shopping centres are often good for this. Plus you can use it as an opportunity to do some shopping while it hails outside. If you’re expecting heavy rain and have cause to be concerned, then you might want to look for higher ground.

Think twice before parking under a tree. Falling branches can cause just as much damage as hail, and are often the result of heavy winds. Also watch out for loose roof tiles, TV aerials and anything else that might come from above.

And whether or not you’re expecting bad weather, you’ll want to avoid parking on grass overnight. The dew that gathers during the night will rise to the bottom of your car. Over time this can lead to rust and significant damage.

3. Use blankets

If there’s no time for anything else, this might be the way to go. Heavier blankets generally work better. Remember to tie them securely. If they just blow away you’ll be facing a damaged car as well as missing blankets.

Did you know?

How exactly can I save on car insurance by protecting my car from bad weather?

If you park your car in an enclosed garage every night, insurers will often recognise this and give you lower insurance premiums than someone who parks out in the open. Sometimes they’ll also give you discounts just for parking in a carport or under safe cover.

You can also save in two key ways by avoiding claims entirely.

  • Pay no excess. The excess can be several hundred dollars which you’ll need to pay when making a claim. By avoiding claims entirely you can avoid paying the excess.
  • Keep premiums down. Insurers will often base your premiums on your claims history. If you avoid making claims this can turn into lower costs in the long run. It can also mean keeping discounts, such as a no-claim bonus.

As always, the prevention is better than the cure.

Which car insurance policies cover hail damage?

Generally you will only be covered for hail and storm damage with comprehensive car insurance. This will typically be the only cover type that can insure you against most damage to your vehicle.

Can hail write off my car?

Yes. It might be surprisingly easy for hail damage to total your car. This is when it would cost more to repair the car than the vehicle is worth.

One of the main reasons is that hail damage will typically be spread across the whole of the car, so it can’t be fixed by just replacing a single panel or without a huge amount of work.

Hail damage will also tend to affect a wide area, sometimes battering an entire city at once, so insurers and repairers might be flat out after a hail storm, and the cost of labour and replacement parts might be unusually high for a while.

When won’t I be covered for hail damage?

If you don’t have comprehensive car insurance, you’re unlikely to be covered against hail or storm damage to your vehicle.

Other exclusions may also apply. For example, if you park your car in an enclosed garage every night and are getting discounted insurance for doing so, then you might not be covered if your car wasn’t parked in the garage when an overnight hail storm hit.

Other policy exclusions may also apply. For example, the insurer might not pay out if the “hail damage” was caused by you deliberately throwing a hailstone through the car window.

How do I submit a claim for hail damage?

You will generally need to:

  • Check that you are covered, and read your insurance policy for more information on how you’ll be claiming
  • Contact the insurer as soon as you are reasonably able to
  • Provide all appropriate evidence and documentation to support your claim

Whenever possible, you should try to avoid driving the car between the time of damage and making a claim.

You can find a more detailed explanation of hail claims here.

Hail is Australia’s most expensive natural disaster

According to Munich Re, a global reinsurer and risk management group, hail is Australia’s most frequent and most financially devastating natural disaster, with the Sydney hailstorms of 1999 being the most costly single loss event in Australia’s history, as of 2014.

The storm damaged 45,000 homes, 63,000 cars, 23 planes and countless boats. More than 120,000 insurance claims were made as a result. Adjusted for inflation to 2014 levels, the storm caused $2.8 billion of damage to insured property and an estimated $3.8 billion of total direct economic loss.

Perth and Brisbane have also experienced similarly devastating hail storms, in 2010 and 2014 respectively.

Peak storm season in Australia is September to April, as the weather gets warmer. During these months it’s a good idea to stay on top of the forecasts and have a hail plan for your car.

If you do need to make a car insurance claim for hail or storm damage, there are some special procedures you might need to follow. It’s worth knowing how to claim, but might be even more worthwhile knowing how to prevent yourself from needing to.
Picture: Shutterstock

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Andrew Munro

Andrew writes for finder.com, comparing products, writing guides and looking for new ways to help people make smart decisions. He's a fan of insurance, business news and cryptocurrency.

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