What is Hail Damage on a Car?

  • by: Patrick Peterson
  • February 15, 2021
  • Other

Car hail damage is when frozen ice balls fall during a storm and dent or scratch the metal and smash the glass on your vehicle. It's actually quite common in some areas of the country like the Northeast or Midwest where severe weather is par for the course. Places like Colorado get a lot of hail. Hail damage causes about $1 billion of damage each year. 

Why Dealers Sell Cars with Hail Damage

If appropriately repaired, a hail damaged car can be quite marketable. Even though it may not be sold as "new" and will most likely have a branded title, the interior mechanics and electrical systems can be completely undamaged by the hail. In many cases, the hail only damages the car's surface with cosmetic damage (dents, dings, scratches, and broken glass). Some discerning buyers will actually request a hail damaged car to save some money. If they perform a VIN check and review the vehicle history report, they might already know the extent of the damage and be comfortable buying a car that was damaged in a hailstorm. Hail affects the resale value of a car or truck. 

Should You Buy a Hail Damaged Car?

Whether you should buy a hail damaged vehicle or not is a personal decision that you must make for yourself. Hail can range in size from golf-ball sized ice to as large as a grapefruit. Regardless, any size ice falling from the sky will most likely dent or damage your vehicle if left outside. 

There are advantages to buying a hail damaged car. Once damaged by hail, the vehicle will receive a branded or salvage title forcing the sale price down. The dealership can no longer sell it as new. Depending on whether or not the dealer or seller repaired the damage is another factor. A hail damaged car can be quite unattractive. 

Often the damage is only cosmetic and does not affect the interior of the car or the mechanical and electrical systems. This is not always the case, so be sure to ask to see the original repair cost estimate for fixing the car and the damage report. A quick VIN check can tell you a lot about a hail damaged car. 

Once you have all the facts and negotiate a price that you are happy with, it might make good sense to buy a hail-damaged car to save yourself some money. 

what is hail damaged car

Does Car Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

It depends. Car insurance does cover hail damage if you have a comprehensive policy. If you purchased the vehicle and had to borrow the money or leased it, you were probably required to carry comprehensive insurance on the car. If, however, you have a bare-bones policy that does not include compressive coverage, then you may have to pick up the tab for the repairs yourself.

If the hail damage is so extensive that your auto insurance company adjuster declares it a total loss, then you can file an insurance claim on your comprehensive policy and get reimbursed to buy a new car. You may still have to pay your deductible, though. Additionally, the claim will go on your insurance policy, and your insurance premiums may go up, but typically with this type of damage, they do not. If you have the windshield glass repaired rather than replaced, your insurance provider may waive your deductible. 

Liability insurance coverage will not cover you for hail damage claims. Liability coverage pays for the other person's damage and medical expenses if you are at fault for a car accident. 

Hail Damage Car Repair Tips

There are a few ways you can tackle repairing the damage from hail. You can try some of the DIY methods like the ones below:

  • Dry ice - Some people have found that dry ice actually pops out the dents. Be sure to wear a protective covering when applying it to your car.
  • Sunshine - park your car in the sun. Sometimes the heat will warm up the metal, and it will expand, popping out the dings and dents. 
  • Hairdryer - use a hairdryer to heat up the metal and fix the dented areas. Don't hold it too close, or you could melt the paint.
  • Repair kit - local automotive or online stores sell hail damage repair kits for $50-$150. You can use glue or suction to pull out the dents.
  • If none of the options above work for you, then it is probably best that you hire a repair shop or professional body shop to repair the vehicle. Many can return it to like-new condition. They may use a variety of methods, including filler or glazing, replacing body parts, or using heat to repair. A lot of these options will require a full paint job as well. Be sure to get a complete quote before taking the claim to your insurance agent. 

The average cost of repairs to fix a hail damaged car is around $2,500. Depending on the extent of the damage, it could be more or less. If you need to replace panels and re-paint, that number could balloon quickly.

How to Protect Your Car from Hail

The best way to never have to deal with hail damage is to protect your car from ever experiencing it. A few ways to do that are:

  • Park your car in a garage or covered carport.
  • Purchase a padded car cover (hail blanket) and put it on your car whenever parked outside. You never know when a random storm will hit. You can also use heavy blankets for protection. 
  • If you know a storm is coming, pay for temporary shelter in a parking garage or other safe structure.
  • Drive to a gas station or other safe spot where you can wait out the storm. Use a weather app that warns you about hailstorms.

Hail damage is not the end of the world, but it can be challenging to deal with. If you live in an area with unpredictable weather, it might make sense to add comprehensive coverage to your policy to protect yourself, so you aren't left holding the bag when the next storm hits.

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