Will Car Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

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  • Hail can seriously damage a vehicle or render the car unusable by its owner.
  • Many drivers can't afford to pay out-of-pocket to fix the problems hail causes.
  • Car insurance can cover hail damage but it depends on the type of policy.

Are drivers protected in case of a hail storm?

Hail storms are a common weather event in many parts of the country. Unfortunately, hail can cause serious damage to a vehicle -- especially if the hailstones are large, if the storm lasts for a long time, or if the hail storm is accompanied by high winds.

There are actually myriad types of problems hail can cause when a storm occurs. Obviously, it can dent a vehicle, as well as cause damage to the car's paint job. It can crack the car's mirrors, windshields, and lights. And it can move mirrors out of place or even knock the mirror off the vehicle entirely.

Unfortunately, fixing the problems hail causes can be quite expensive -- especially if the damage was extensive. In fact, in some cases, hail causes so much havoc that the entire car is declared a total loss.

Drivers who have sustained hail damage may find covering the costs associated with repair or replacement of the car difficult, and may be wondering if car insurance provides coverage. Here's what motorists need to know about the rules for when auto insurance policies pay for hail-related issues.

When does car insurance cover hail damage?

Car insurance will provide protection for hail damage only if the driver has the right type of coverage in place. Drivers who buy only the required auto insurance will usually find that hail damage is not covered at all.

In many states, the only type of required coverage is liability protection. This pays damages out to other people if the policyholder causes an accident and injures someone or damages their property. Hail damage to a driver's own vehicle would never be covered by a liability policy, as this only compensates victims for the harm the policyholder causes.

Some states also require drivers to buy various other kinds of coverage, such as uninsured or underinsured motorist protection or medical payments coverage. But none of these would pay out to a driver whose own vehicle was damaged by hail.

In order for a motorist to get insurance coverage for the harm their own vehicle experienced due to a hail storm, the driver would need something called comprehensive coverage.

How does comprehensive coverage work?

Comprehensive coverage is an important type of auto insurance for those who want to ensure their policy protects against hail damage and other non-accident-related causes. While states don't require it, lenders typically do for drivers with auto loans and dealers typically mandate it for leased vehicles.

Comprehensive coverage pays for any harm that befalls a car that doesn't occur in a collision and that isn't caused by another person whose insurance can be held responsible for paying for losses. This includes hail storms, but also theft, vandalism, and incidents such as trees falling on the vehicle.

Drivers with comprehensive coverage can make a claim for the repair or replacement of their vehicle when hail has caused harm. The insurer will pay out any additional money necessary to make fixes or replace the car after the insured policyholder has met the deductible.

Most drivers, except those with very old and inexpensive vehicles, should consider this optional type of protection, as they may never know when a hail storm or other calamity will occur. Buying it could potentially stave off financial disaster when things go wrong by ensuring a driver doesn't have to pay out-of-pocket to resolve all the problems their car could experience.

RELATED: See The Ascent's guides to the best cheap car insurance and best car insurance companies.

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