3 major hail storms have rocked the Dallas / Fort Worth area over the last 6 weeks. Most of the attention has been on the damage to roofs, but our cars, trucks, and SUVs have taken a beating too! I thought this would be an appropriate time to look at car insurance and hail claims. We’ll examine what coverage applies, determining whether or not to file a claim, options if your car is totaled. I’ll also touch on one important thing to ask when talking with claim adjusters!
First, let’s take a look at some numbers. The March 16 hail storm caused an estimated $600 million in damage to homes, cars, and businesses. The March 23 storm is expected to approach $700 million in damages for a combined total of $1.3 billion in damages from both storms. If Monday’s storm is even close to either of these numbers then damages from all three storms may reach or pass the $2 billion mark.
Roughly 40,000 vehicles were damaged in each of the first two storms. I expect we’ll surpass that given Monday’s storm hit vehicles from Denton and Sanger in the west to Rockwall County in the east. The storm hit during the evening rush hour, as well as, damaging vehicles at dealerships and rental lots. Due to the size of the hail in Plano, Allen, and Wylie, there should be a lot of cars that are total losses.
Hail coverage: The two biggest deductibles on a Texas car insurance policy are referred to as collision and comprehensive. Collision applies to accidents or wrecks, while comprehensive coverage applies to a variety of events including hail damage. In order for a hail damage claim to be honored, your policy must have comprehensive coverage included. Deductibles range anywhere from $100 to over $1,000 depending on what you selected.
Rental reimbursement: Most people do carry rental car reimbursement coverage. This pays for a rental car whenever your car is in the shop for an approved claim. If you don’t have this coverage, then you’ll have to pay out of pocket for the rental car, or beg everyone you know for a ride. The cost for this option is usually around $2.00 per car per month on your car insurance bill.
File a claim or not: In cases where there’s minor damage to your vehicle, I suggest getting an estimate at your local body shop and comparing that to your comprehensive deductible. That will help you determine whether or not filing a claim is worth it. Now if your car was hit by softball size hail, I’d just go ahead and file a claim.
Where to get it repaired: Many of my clients wonder where to take their vehicles to have them repaired. Most of your larger body shops (Herb’s Paint and Body, Service King, Caliber, etc.) have direct relationships with most car insurance companies. Progressive has their own concierge shops in the area where you can drop the car off, file a claim, pick up a rental car, and be on your way. If you don’t like any of these options, remember, Texas state law allows you to get your vehicle repaired at the shop of your choice.
What if it’s totaled: I’ve had several clients over the past few years whose cars were totaled by hail. The decision each of them made was whether to accept the payment for the total loss and give up a perfectly running but dimpled car or keep it. The choice is yours. If you decide to give up the car, then you’ll be able to replace it with a new or new to your car, provided there’s enough coverage to pay off the loan or lease.
If you determine to keep the car, you’ll be given a lesser amount of money for the damage. In addition the insurance company will drop collision, and possibly comprehensive coverage from your policy. The reason for this is no one is allowed to have a vehicle totaled a second time whether by hail or an accident.
There is one important question to ask your claim adjuster, however, I’ll leave that for Tuesday’s post where I talk about multiple claims. Be sure to check that one out, because it can save you money! If you have a question, comment, or experience you’d like to share, please share them with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!