Navigating the Process After Car Damage from Hail Storms

Car Damage from Hail Storms

Few things are more upsetting for car owners than walking outside to find their vehicle ravaged by a serious hail storm. Even small hail can cause alarming damage like chips, cracks and heavy dimpling of the exterior metal panels. Plus, hail-inflicted damage keeps spreading as time passes. Left untreated, the effects of hail damage only amplify.

The Importance of Auto Insurance for Car Owners

Is your car more than just a mode of transportation? For many, their vehicle is a major financial investment that allows them to get to work, take the kids to activities, and enjoy road trips with loved ones. But as with any valuable asset, accidents and unforeseen circumstances are always a possibility. That’s where auto insurance comes in.

Car Damage by Hail Storm: The Insurance Filing Process

Let’s explore the key steps involved in navigating the insurance claims process after car damage from a significant hail storm:

1. Document the Damage

The claims process starts by comprehensively documenting the hail damage. Walk around your car and take multiple photos capturing all sides – even areas that don’t show obvious damage at first glance. Hail can cause hidden dents and distortions, so err on the side of taking too many up-close photos versus too few.

Be sure to capture images of the most heavily damaged areas, like the hood, roof, trunk, and top sides of the vehicle. Also photograph any major cracks, chips or holes punched through exterior panels or glass. Your insurance adjuster will want to see the full scope of the impact that the hail had on your vehicle.

2. Review your Insurance Policy

Before contacting your insurer, it pays to thoroughly review your auto insurance policy. You’ll want to understand exactly what comprehensive coverage entails regarding hail damage repairs. Also note your deductible amount, as this is what you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in.

For most standard policies, the comprehensive portion will cover costs to repair hail damage like dimples, cracks, and chipped paint. But exclusions are common, like for “acts of God” beyond a certain damage threshold. Knowing your policy’s fine print prevents surprises when filing your claim.

3. Contact your Insurance Company

Once you’ve documented the hail damage, it’s important to contact your insurance company promptly. Provide basic details like when the hail storm occurred, where your car was parked and the extent of damage noticed during your initial inspection.

Calling right away starts the claims process so repairs aren’t delayed. It also establishes the timing of the damage for your claim. Insurers may deny hail damage coverage if too much time has lapsed between the storm and notifying them. Don’t leave your insurer in the dark if your car falls victim to a hail storm.

4. Fill Out the Claim Form

The next step involves completing your insurance provider’s claim form, whether it’s online or through an agent. Expect to provide in-depth details like:

  • The date, time, and location of the hail storm
  • Where your car was parked when it was damaged
  • The nature of the damage (dents, cracks, chipped paint)
  • Witness information, like if a neighbour also had hail-damaged vehicles

Provide every detail you can recall, as this establishes the facts of your claim. Sign and date the completed form before submitting it to your insurer. Thorough documentation now makes it much easier to get your claim approved.

5. Schedule an Inspection

Once your claim form is received, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to perform an inspection. This allows the damage to be assessed in person rather than just from photos. Be available at the scheduled inspection time or allow the adjuster to do their work unsupervised.

Point out areas you’re especially concerned about like sizable dents, paint cracks or chipped glass. Mention any post-hail issues like windows that won’t roll up properly. The adjuster documents all damage observed during their visual inspection. This establishes the formal insurance damage estimate.

6. Get Repair Estimates.

Your insurer will likely request you get written repair estimates from auto body shops. Expect to get estimates from both insurance company preferred shops as well as your own chosen auto body repair facility.

Ask each shop to detail parts and labour charges for hail repairs like dent removal, panel replacements, paintless dent repair, and paint matching. These written estimates are necessary for the insurance company to extend a claim settlement offer. Don’t skip this important step.

7. Review the Settlement Offer

Once they have the adjuster’s report and repair estimates in hand, the insurer will extend a claim settlement offer. They may choose to declare the vehicle a total loss if repair costs exceed a percentage of the car’s value. More likely, they’ll offer a settlement equal to the repair estimate minus your deductible.

Carefully review this initial claim offer, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or point out gaps. For instance, if you received a higher repair estimate from your chosen body shop, share this with the insurer. Push back if you feel the settlement offer seems low. Don’t accept it without proper consideration.

8. Complete the Repairs

With an adequate claim settlement secured, you can now move forward with repairs through the insurance company’s preferred vendor or your own shop. Schedule a start date for this multi-day repair process. Many insurers even provide complimentary rental cars for policyholders during the repair period.

Work closely with the car repair shop supervisor to understand timelines and parts delays. Make yourself available if supplemental damage is found during the repair process, which may require re-opening your claim. Stay engaged throughout the repairs until your car is restored to pre-hail condition.

9. Submit Final Documents

Once repairs reach completion, the shop will have you inspect the finished work and provide final approval. Make sure you’re satisfied with the quality before this important step. After you sign off, the shop will submit the final invoice and any other paperwork to the insurance company for payment processing.

Your insurer may require you submit follow-up documents as well, like the rental car invoice or photos of the completed repairs. Complying with these requests leads to faster claim payment to you or the repair shop.

10. Close the Claim

With all required documentation submitted, the insurer will issue claim payment either directly to you or the repair shop handling the work. Once final payment is made, your hail damage claim can be closed out.

But don’t discard those claim documents just yet – you’ll want evidence in case paint damage reappears or hidden issues manifest down the road. Even closed claims can sometimes be re-opened for subsequent repairs if a proper cause is shown.


Dealing with car damage from punishing hail storms is never fun or convenient. But by understanding the key phases of the insurance claims process, drivers can move through them with confidence.


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