No matter how careful you are, weather happens. Hail storms are unpredictable, and they can cause serious damage to vehicles. Whether your car is hit by a few hail stones or whether it now looks like a golf ball, fixing hail damage can be expensive. In this article, we provide a comprehensive guide to navigating car hail damage repair costs and how to get the best outcome possible — for your car and your wallet.
How to Figure Out If Your Insurance Covers Hail Damage
The hail damage repair cost varies based on the type of insurance you possess. If you’ve discovered hail damage on your car, the first thing you should do is determine if you have comprehensive coverage car insurance or liability insurance. Comprehensive coverage protects even against non-crash related events, so it covers a number of environmental catastrophes — including hail damage. A liability policy does not cover hail damage. It will always state the policy type on your insurance card, but if you’re not sure what kind of plan you have, call your insurance provider and ask as soon as possible.
Now, it is possible that even with comprehensive coverage, the damage to your car is such that insurance won’t cover it. This can happen when the hail damage isn’t severe enough to reach your deductible. Most deductibles are between $250 and $750. If you have comprehensive coverage, you’ll have to pay your comprehensive deductible. So minor hail damage may not warrant an insurance claim, because the cost isn’t going to surpass your deductible. But there’s a lot to find out before you decide whether you’ll get help from insurance.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair Hail Damage?
It’s important to get a damage appraisal estimate before contacting insurance. You can either do this yourself or take the car to a shop. Nearly every shop will give you a free estimate. If their estimates doesn’t surpass your deductible by at least $100, there’s really no reason to report the damage to insurance — you’ll have to pay the entire deductible anyway and filling out the paperwork is a chore. Skipping paperwork alone is worth more than $100 for most people.
Tip: Some minor hail dents tend to work themselves back out after the car is left in the sun for a few days. So if your car is very lightly damaged, nature may fix the problem for you.
It will cost approximately $30 to $45 to repair small dents located in easily accessible areas like the hood, trunk, or roof. For medium-sized dents, the price per dent increases by about $10, costing $40 to $55, and large dents may cost $75 to $80.
Some car companies or body shops provide hail damage cost estimates on their websites. PARS certified, a paintless dent removal company, has one of these sites, allowing you to get a feel of how much it would cost you to have them repair your car. PARS has estimated the numbers listed below. Remember, these hail damage repair costs are approximate and will vary between body shops. As you’ll see, roof damage is going to be the most expensive when fixing hail damage.
Hood Damage Cost
- Dime-sized: $150
- Nickel-sized: $175
- Quarter-sized: $200
- Half-dollar-sized: $225
- Dime-sized: $200
- Nickel-sized: $225
- Quarter-sized: $250
- Half-dollar-sized: $300
- Dime-sized: $250
- Nickel-sized: $275
- Quarter-sized: $300
- Half-dollar-sized: $375
Roof Damage Cost
- Dime-sized: $300
- Nickel-sized: $325
- Quarter-sized: $350
- Half-dollar-sized: $400
- Dime-sized: $375
- Nickel-sized: $400
- Quarter-sized: $425
- Half-dollar-sized: $450
- Dime-sized: $450
- Nickel-sized: $475
- Quarter-sized: $525
- Half-dollar-sized: $575
Trunk Damage Cost
- Dime-sized dents: $125
- Nickel-sized dents: $125
- Quarter-sized dents: $150
- Half-dollar-sized dents: $175
- Dime-sized: $150
- Nickel-sized: $175
- Quarter-sized: $225
- Half-dollar-sized: $250
- Dime-sized: $200
- Nickel-sized: $225
- Quarter-sized: $275
- Half-dollar-sized: $300
Replacement Glass Cost
Replacing the glass in your car isn’t as costly as you may think. Most windshields can be replaced for between $150 to $300. Windshields break so often that replacement windshields are readily available and the install is fairly easy for a pro. A rule of thumb though is the larger the sheet of glass, the more expensive it is to replace.
It’s not advised you try to do a windshield replacement on your own, but if it’s a side window you might be able to DIY it. Side window replacement and back window replacement vary greatly from vehicle-to-vehicle, but in some cases, a novice can do it. Replacing side windows is the easiest of all glass replacements because they don’t need to be sealed into the body of the car. Check your local junk yard, and with a little luck you can find a replacement window.
Step 1: Filing a Claim
After determining that you have comprehensive coverage and that the hail damage exceeds your deductible by at least $100, file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. You’ll need to fill out a form. After you’ve called your insurer, take plenty of pictures of the hail-damaged areas. Include these pictures with your claim form, along with any notes you feel are important.
Step 2: The Claims Process
Your insurance company may have restrictions on which body shops you can go to, or they may have a recommended list of body shops you will want to check out. See what each body shop guarantees when it comes to fixing your car. Gather as much information as you can and be ready to provide your insurance company with this information.
Step 3: The Assessment
The last step in the claims process is the actual assessment with your insurance company. Since hail damage is so expensive, your insurance company may be looking for ways to save themselves money. If their preliminary offer isn’t something you can take, don’t be afraid to use the estimates you gathered to argue for more payout. Pressure them until you have what you need to fully cover repairs. And once your deductible is met, the price for the repair isn’t a huge concern for you. You just want to make sure it’s done right.
How Does Hail Damage Affect the Value of Your Car?
Hail damage costs don’t always end when the damage has been fixed. Hail damage can lower the value of your car, even if there are just a couple dents or blemishes. When getting hail damage repaired, it’s a good idea to repair all dents while you’re at it if you’re looking to resell. If you own a tall vehicle such as an SUV, you may be fine leaving the roof dents as no one will see them. Be sure to mention it to the next buyer just so they know.
The title of your car won’t be affected by minor hail damage. However, if the insurance company declares your car a total loss, your car will go from having a clear title to a salvage title – thus drastically reducing the value of the car. If they declare the car a total loss, strongly consider giving up the car and taking what money the insurance company offers you.
For a more information, we suggest the article: What Your Car Is Worth Now That It’s Been Hailed
Is Your Car Worth Fixing?
The answer to this question depends on the state of your car ownership. If you own the car outright, then no one else but you is concerned with the value of the car. If that’s the case, then whether to repair is up to you. If, however, you are still paying off a loan, it may be best to pay for repairs. In this case, your lien holder will be concerned about the value of the car they still technically own. And, if you want to resell your car, you’ll definitely want to get it repaired to increase your car’s value.
Hail Damage Repair Scams To Avoid
It’s not unheard of for phony hail damage repair people to pop up and try to lure you in with “new” or “cheap” dent-removal methods. One example is so-called paintless dent removers who set up tents and claim to use a whole host of new dent-removal techniques. Some of these may utilize anything from liquid nitrogen to suction cups. Scammers will try to persuade you that their methods are just as effective as those of large body shops but for a portion of the price. They may try to give you a phony repair quote, or even tell you to use the check from your insurance to pay for their cheap services and then to keep the difference for yourself. If you do this, you will be committing fraud.
As a rule, turn down door-to-door solicitors who show up after a hailstorm. They might be looking to take advantage of people who’ve never had hail damage before and don’t know what to do about it. Don’t fall prey to sales pitches that tell you “all your neighbors” are getting their roofs replaced or cars fixed one certain way. When in doubt, consult your insurance company.
Will Hail Damage Affect Your Insurance Rates?
If you have comprehensive coverage, hail damage usually won’t negatively affect your premium. Generally, insurers understand that environmental damage is out of your control. On the other hand, the more claims you file with your insurance, especially if you file multiple claims in a short spam of time, your insurer might consider you a higher risk. To insurance companies, lots of claims mean lots of risk, and because of this, your rate could increase. So only file a claim if it really is your best option. Always get a hail damage repair cost estimate before talking with insurance.
Be Smart and Lower Your Estimate
Here are some things you can do to keep that estimate nice and low — especially if you only have liability coverage and you’ll be fixing the car yourself.
- First, gather several estimates from different body shops. Use the differing numbers to negotiate the best price.
- Second, keep in mind that body shops may overestimate in order to make it look like you got a steal when you get the actual bill. If you were expecting to pay more, you may forgive sub-par service.
- Third, make sure you know exactly what is going to happen to your car. Never give a mechanic free reign to just do whatever they think is necessary. Additionally, it’s often not a good idea to ask the mechanic if there is “anything else” your car may need: they may make up a problem to fatten your bill. Save this kind of question for mechanics you trust only.
- Last, if your insurance allows, use aftermarket or used parts instead of OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer parts), as aftermarket or used parts will be much cheaper and most often look or function no differently.
Hail Damage Prevention
The best way to save on hail damage is to prevent it before it happens. Here are some tips to spot potential hail storms or protect your car from damage:
- Check your weather apps for professional updates, and set alerts for big storms
- Cover your car with thick blankets or towels
- Park your car in an enclosed area when possible, or at least under a tree
- Know where the nearest parking garage is to use in case of emergency
- You can go inside a car wash in a pinch
- If you’re going to be out of town and are leaving your car behind, make sure your car is protected as well as possible
- Invest in a hail protection car cover or other new hail protection gadgets for your car
- Strongly consider getting a garage for your car. The cost of paying for covered parking spot with your apartment complex may become well worth it if it saves you hail damage, especially if you only have liability insurance. If you’re able, consider only getting a garage during hail season (April 15th through September 15th)
As long as you stay smart and aware, hail damage costs don’t have to put a dent in your bank account. If you have liability insurance and need to repair hail damage, take steps to get the best repair cost. Get multiple estimates and use aftermarket replacement parts. If you have comprehensive coverage, compare the repair estimates to your deductible before rushing to make a claim. And if you can, take precautionary measures to prevent hail damage in the first place.