You’re driving to a friend’s house to visit for the evening, but the clouds roll in, the wind picks up, and you can start to hear the distinctive “ping, ping, ping” of hailstones bouncing off the car roof.
Hail damage is one of the most frustrating things to deal with as a car owner. If you’re lucky, they’ll be small and you’ll arrive happily without hail damage. Sometimes that isn’t the case, like Australia’s hailstorm that caused over $320,000 in damages with golf-ball-sized hailstones in January 2020.
Luckily, southern Ontario only tends to see hailstorms occasionally between May and October.
What kind of damage are we talking about from a little bit of hail?
- Dents on your car’s hood and/or roof
- Windshield and window cracks
- Small holes in the rear or front windshield
- Small scratches and marks on the paint
These can vary pretty widely between storms and cars, which means that there isn’t really a standard cost for hail damage repairs.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to avoid hail damage to your car other than parking your car where it’s covered. If you know the storm is coming ahead of time, look for these kinds of places nearby:
- A neighbour’s garage
- Nearby carport
- Underground parking complexes
Keep an eye on weather apps to get notifications for hailstorms on your phone, for starters. Car and windshield covers can also be handy, cost-effective protection if you don’t have a structure for your car, either.
If hail does end up damaging your car, there are several methods that can help you fix it—both professional and DIY-style.
3 methods to fix hail damage to your car
These are popular methods to repair hail damage, but remember to speak with a professional before attempting anything. We’re here to point you in the right direction, but this isn’t a substitute for professional advice.
- Applying extreme heat or cold to the dents can make them more malleable and make it easier to reverse them. Most people attempt this by applying heat with a hair dryer, however others have gotten more creative with cold solutions like dry ice (but be careful with it!) This is the easiest DIY method and meant for only minor dents and damage. Be careful you don’t cause extra damage to the paint job.
- Dent repair kits are available for purchase at common stores like Walmart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, and even on Amazon. They typically include at least a knockdown tool, glue gun, various stem sizes. This option is good for those who have a bit of know-how and are only looking to fix small dents.
- Taking it to a mechanic is sometimes the best option, especially if you can see more than just a few minor dents. Trying DIY repair methods also carries some risk of damaging your car, so this is good if you aren’t confident about DIY fixes. Minor damage can be repaired in a few days, but if your car has sustained serious damage that requires paint work or a panel replacement, it may take up to three weeks.
Bonus tip: Selling the vehicle isn’t fixing it, but could be the best option if the cost of repairs match or exceed the value of the vehicle itself. Is it an old clunker that gets you from point A to point B? It might be the perfect thing for someone else looking to score a deal. You’ll have to discount the vehicle a bit for the hail damage, but that’s not usually an issue for older cars anyway.
How much does it cost to repair hail damage to your car?
The cost can range anywhere from $100 to remove one dent to $2,500 for a new paint job, windshield, and dent removal (in more extreme cases).
It can be expensive to repair because the damage usually applies to the entire car, but it mostly depends on the size and severity of the hail—and that’s not in anyone’s control. Some hailstones are so large they can punch holes right through a windshield, while others just create tiny dents in the car’s hood that you can repair yourself with a $15 tool from the store (see above).
Keep in mind if you’re looking to get the cost covered by your comprehensive car insurance, you’ll probably have to pay a deductible around $500-$1,000. The cost of the repairs will likely exceed the deductible if you’re paying for a paint job or new panels, so it’s likely that you’ll get a good amount of your money back on a big claim.
Does my insurance cover hail damage?
If you have comprehensive car insurance, hail damage to your car is likely covered under “acts of nature.” If you’ve only purchased auto liability coverage, then you’ll be footing the bill entirely out-of-pocket.
It’s always safer to secure comprehensive coverage ahead of time instead of after the fact or at the last minute. This is especially true if you live in an area prone to inclement weather like hailstorms, hurricanes, and snow storms.
Can you write off a car for hail damage?
If the car is worth less than $2,500 and the hail damage goes beyond just a few dents, then your insurance provider may decide to write it off instead of repairing it—but that decision rests with the insurer. Discuss it with your broker to see if it’s a possibility; aha insurance offers claims counselling so that you can figure out if it’s worth filing the claim before you get on the phone with your provider.
What happens if hail damage happens to a lease or rental car?
It may seem unfair, but you will be required to pay for the repairs to the vehicle if you didn’t have it insured for hail ahead of time. Comprehensive coverage for hail damage pays out the same for owned and financed vehicles, but always double-check your policy to make sure you really are covered for hail.
For rental cars, you’ll need OPCF 27 coverage on your own policy, or you’ll have to pay for insurance straight from the rental company before any hail damage actually occurs.
That’s it for hail damage repairs and insurance! If you’re part of the aha insurance family and still aren’t sure how to proceed, then get in touch with us for claims counselling. We’ll walk you through the process.