What to do when your vehicle has suffered hail damage

Summer hail storms are becoming increasingly common across Calgary and Southern Alberta. With very little warning, your pristine vehicle can be battered with hail, significantly reducing the vehicle’s value. What is the right option for your unique situation following a hail storm? How do you know if you’re covered and when should you take the payout versus fixing the hail on your vehicle? If all of this seems confusing to you, you aren’t alone. Because this topic isn’t often discussed, Honda West will guide you through the options. To start we need to talk about insurance coverage and who is actually covered for hail damage claims. 

Does Your Insurance Cover Hail Damage? 

When talking about hail it’s important to note that you are generally not required to purchase hail coverage when buying a new or used vehicle. Hail coverage comes in the form of comprehensive vehicle insurance, which covers damage to your car that is not caused by a vehicle collision. Comprehensive vehicle insurance covers theft or vandalism, damage caused by hitting wildlife and most relevant to what we are discussing, weather related damage such as hail, flood and fire damage. Without comprehensive coverage you will be required to pay if you wish to fix the cosmetic damage on your vehicle caused by hail so you should confirm what kind of coverage you have before continuing. With comprehensive coverage, the insurance company will send out an insurance adjuster to estimate the hail damage caused to the vehicle.

How To Claim Hail Damage on Your Vehicle?

Once you’ve determined that your vehicle has hail coverage, the next step is to document the hail damage on your vehicle. But, first off is the vehicle actually damaged? Light hail storms often won’t damage your vehicle, it can be hard to tell with smaller hail so going to a dealership for an appraisal or phoning an insurance adjuster for an inspection would be your next step. 

Going to a dealership offers the advantage of getting a market value report on your vehicle, which shows vehicles with the same make, model and production year as well as showing what price the vehicle is being advertised for. This is useful because with this information you can accurately estimate your vehicle’s worth before the hail damage, and if need be you can use this information to dispute the vehicle value given by the insurance adjuster if the value is lower than what you believe it to be. Furthermore, you can use a dealership appraisal of your vehicle and the hail damage on it, to justify getting a second quote if you feel the insurance adjuster has undervalued the hail damage on your vehicle. 

Regardless of whether you go to a dealership for an appraisal or not you will need to work with your insurance company to complete the actual claim process. Once the insurance company provides a value for your vehicle and the hail damage sustained, your next step is to decide what route works best for you.   The insurance company will typically give you an option of either fixing the vehicle. which is usually based upon a paintless dent repair company for lighter hail damage, or offering you a settlement cheque of a percentage of the assessed damage.  

Making the Right Decision

Assuming the cost of the cosmetic damage exceeds or is close to exceeding the value of your vehicle, the insurance company will declare it a total loss and provide a cheque for a replacement vehicle for the value of your vehicle’s worth prior to the hail damage. However, typically the damage won’t exceed the vehicle’s value and you will need to decide whether to take the hail claim payout or get it fixed through insurance. But what are the advantages of each and when should you consider each? It mostly depends on the vehicle you have and how you plan on using it in the future. 

Older Vehicles

If you have an older vehicle that has sustained hail damage, you can take the money to reinvest in the vehicle or use the claim money for personal use and keep driving your current vehicle if you don’t mind a few dents or dings on your car. If your older hail damaged used vehicle isn’t very reliable you should consider taking the money from the payout to use towards the purchase of another vehicle. Regardless of how you use the payout money, on older vehicles you usually won’t see a return on investment by fixing your vehicle,  as the hail damage won’t significantly impact the resale value of your vehicle. For example, a 10 year old car with $3000 in hail damage may be worth $5000 but if you got it fixed rather than taking the payout, it may be only worth $6000. 

Newer Vehicles

On newer vehicles it’s much harder to know what the right choice is. If you’re planning on selling or trading in the vehicle in the near future, taking the hail money up front instead of fixing the hail through insurance will result in a much lower selling price when you eventually choose to sell your vehicle. If you are someone who puts hundreds of thousands of kilometers on their car and doesn’t mind a dented vehicle, then keeping the hail money and not fixing your vehicle will probably be your best bet.

It’s important to note that if you choose to either take the money or fix the vehicle without going through your insurance then you or any future owners will not be able to claim hail damage on this vehicle again. There is also a large grey area with these claims as some older vehicles can be written off despite the damage not exceeding the value of the vehicle so it’s important to remember that claims vary based on the age and mileage of the vehicle, the extent of the hail damage, if the vehicle is currently under loan, and who appraises the damage. 

Making the Right Decision for You

There are many different nuances when it comes to making the right decision for you and your situation so if you’re still unsure what your next step is don’t hesitate to contact Honda West. We will help you through the hail claim process from providing a third party market value report and appraisal to ensure you are not getting taken advantage of during your hail claim process. Hail damage doesn’t need to be the end of the world with help from Honda West!