auto hail repair

What Happens If Your Vehicle Is Totaled From Hail Damage?

Hail causes about $15 billion in damage every year. This includes buildings, crops, personal items, and vehicles.

While even the most severe hail damage is on the surface of your vehicle, it can "total" it. In these rare circumstances, it may be difficult to know what to do and how to proceed with an insurance claim.

If you have experienced hail damage to your car, keep reading. This article lays out everything you need to know about hail damage that results in a "total loss." It explains what that means for your vehicle and your insurance compensation.

What Determines if a Car Is Totaled From Hail?

Your insurance company is the entity that determines if a vehicle is "totaled." First, they will have an assessor evaluate the extent of the damage and estimate the amount it will cost to repair it. They will consider the age of the car and the condition it is in.

They also will look at the type of car. For instance, classic or collector cars would be treated differently than most other vehicles that depreciate over time.

Finally, they will consider "contributory negligence." This means that the damage was partially the fault of the driver (which is rarely the case with hail damage).

Thresholds can vary among car companies, and with circumstances. But, in general, if the total amount of damage reaches about 70 to 75 percent of the vehicle's value (or more), the insurance company will deem it a "total loss." This is also a way for insurance companies to say that they will not cover repairs for the car.

Why Only 70-75 Percent?

You may be wondering why insurance companies do not pay for repairs beyond the 70 to 75 percent threshold. Why is it not 100 percent? Do they not lose money by cutting it off at 70 percent?

Part of the answer to this question is that the loss is insignificant. Once they write you a check for the value, they own the wrecked car. They may be able to recoup some of the difference by selling it to salvage companies for fair market value.

They also can avoid the time and costs involved in dealing with repair shops and negotiating rates. In short, they may lose a small amount of money by deeming a car "totaled," but that amount is negligible.

How Can Hail Total a Car?

The most common type of damage to a car from hail is to surface areas. These can include dents, dings, chips, and scratches. In most cases, experienced technicians can fix these using innovative techniques like "paintless dent repair."

However, extensive surface damage can result in a "total loss." This might be due to the severity of individual dents. If they are especially deep or folded, or if the paint has been damaged, then technicians must resort to "traditional" repair techniques.

These are much more time-consuming and costly. This can push the price of the repair closer to the 70 percent mark.

Likewise, if hail has damaged the paint of the vehicle, then repairs can be more costly. If, for whatever reason, there is a long gap between the incident and hail damage repairs, then moisture can penetrate through the compromised paint layer. This can lead to corrosion and more severe harm to the metal surface.

Finally, hail storms can affect other parts of your vehicle. It can sometimes impair safety features, like backup cameras and sensors, which can make the vehicle dangerous to drive. If there is damage to these or similar features, including your motor, then you can expect repair costs to be substantial.

How to Know if Insurance Covers Hail Damage?

There are two main types of insurance coverage when it comes to wrecks involving other drivers. Liability coverage covers damage done when the policyholder is at fault. All states require it for property damage (including cars of other drivers) and bodily injury (except for Florida, which mandates liability only for property damage).

Collision insurance covers damage to the policyholder's own vehicle if they are at fault in an accident. If the other driver is at fault, then their liability insurance should cover damage to your car. If they are driving without insurance, uninsured motorist insurance would cover damage to your car, as well as medical bills and other related expenses.

All that is to say that hail damage is usually not covered by either of these policies. It usually falls under "comprehensive insurance." Such policies cover theft, vandalism, fire, and damage from severe weather, such as hail.

Unfortunately, if you do not have a "comprehensive" or similar policy, your insurance will likely not cover the damage. However, it is worth asking to see if any aspect of your plan would kick in given the circumstances.

What to Do if Your Car Is a Total Loss?

If your insurance policy covers hail damage and they determine that the vehicle is totaled, they will cover the full pre-damage value of the car. In most cases, they will send you a check for that amount, minus your deductible.

The total amount of time it takes to get compensation for the incident can vary. You can usually expect anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the circumstances. However, after your insurance company has made the determination, you should receive payment quickly.

Also note that if, for whatever reason, you wish to keep the car, you can. The insurance company will probably deduct from your payment the amount they estimate that they could get for it in parts or salvage.

Learn More About Hail Damage

Now that you know what to do if your vehicle is totaled from hail damage, you can take the proper steps to get compensation from your insurance. Reputable companies that offer hail damage repair services can help you further navigate this process and get you back on the road.

Express Auto Hail Repair provides fast, quality dent repair and will work with your insurance to get coverage. We also back up all our repairs with a lifetime warranty. Reach out to us to schedule hail damage repair today.


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Team member using specialized tools to work on dent repair on a bright orange 4-door sedan