Hail storms seem to hit when you least expect them. It’s a warm summer day, perhaps there’s a slight drizzle of rain, a dark gray-blue sky in the distance, and then PLOP! Here comes the hail! Where did it come from and how did it form? Hail is formed when raindrops are lifted up into the atmosphere during a thunderstorm and then “supercooled” by freezing temperatures, which turns them into little ice balls, says Dr. Dick Orvill of Texas A&M University.
If you have fair warning that a hailstorm is on its way, here are a few ways you can help prevent damage to your car. If you’ve already experienced hail damage, we also have some tips on how to handle insurance companies and damages to your car.
Preventing Hail Damage
Check your car insurance policy before the weatherman says a storm is on its way. You can review your policy online or with your agent, or schedule a policy review over the phone with one of our friendly agents. If you’re a current Direct Auto customer or just received a quote from Direct, schedule a quick appointment and we’ll walk you through the ins-and-outs of how your coverages and deductibles relate to real life situations.
When you hear that a storm may be headed in your direction, move your car into a garage or under cover. If you can’t do so, cover your car in an old blanket and a car cover from your auto store. Lay several blankets over the hood, windshield, roof, back window, and trunk of your car. Then, cover the blankets with a car cover. The blankets will help prevent dents and cracks from hailstones and the car cover will hold the blankets in place.
Dealing with Hail Damage
Call your insurance company
If you didn’t already, check your insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage will typically help pay for damage from a natural disaster, but you may not have comprehensive coverage if your car is around 8 years old or older, or you are not leasing it or making payments on it. If you only have liability insurance (which is a minimum requirement in most states), then you’ll be paying for repairs to your car out of your own pocket. Liability coverage only relates to a vehicle accidents that you cause, and only pays for damages and medical expenses incurred by the other driver. Your property liability coverage does not pay for repairs to your own vehicle.
Visit a repair shop
Thankfully, hail usually only causes cosmetic damage to your car. You can still drive to work, but it might not be a pretty sight. If your insurance company is paying for the repairs to your vehicle, ask about repair shops that are in their preferred circle. This could work to your advantage. For instance, Direct Auto customers that select a shop from the Direct Repair group receive a guarantee on their repairs for as long as they own the vehicle.
Know your repair options
Your repair shop can remove the dents in a handful of ways. With paintless dent removal, a technician will massage the dents out from the underside of the car panel. The traditional method involves straightening and filling the dents, then repainting the panels. If the damage to your vehicle is on the severe side, the panels could need to be replaced entirely. Paintless dent removal usually takes 1-2 days to complete, while the traditional method could take a week or so.
You need your car for everyday life, so it’s a bummer when you have to go without it for a few days. Thankfully, hail damage can be “smoothed out” pretty quickly. Have you experienced a hailstorm lately? What did you do to protect your car or make the repair process go smoother? Let us know in a comment below!