Cars tend to bear the brunt when hailstorms hit, as was the case when golf-ball sized hail assaulted central Alberta earlier this week causing plenty of property damage. Superficial dings are common, and if you’re really unlucky, a cracked windshield.
The question is, are you insured? Unless you have “comprehensive” insurance, it’s likely you’re not, says insurance expert Anne Marie Thomas of InsuranceHotline.com. In Alberta especially, many policyholders don’t have hail coverage and glass coverage because it’s so expensive.
“It’s surprising how much damage hail can do. What looks like a few pockmarks can end up being quite costly,” she says. Repairing a dent could cost upwards of $100 and if you have several, that can add up.
If you do have coverage, whether you should file a claim depends on a few things. You should take into consideration how much the cost of repair for hail damage is, how much your deductible is and how much your car is worth. If it’s going to cost $2,000 for a paint job and dent repair and you have a $1,000 deductible, your company will only cover the remaining $1,000, says Thomas. “If your car is older and worth $2,500, it may not be worth it,” she adds.
If you own your car and have no plans to sell it in the future, forgoing the cosmetic repair and keeping the cash settlement may be worth your while. However, if you do plan to sell or trade your vehicle, small, cosmetic damage could affect the car’s resale value. “You don’t want to leave money on the table. If it costs a $1,000 to get the damage repaired, but it’s going to take $1,500 off the resale, then it’s worth it,” says Thomas. If your car’s a hunk of junk, you might be better off using the cash for something else. Start a new car fund, maybe?
If it’s your first time filing a comprehensive claim for hail damage, depending on your insurance company, it may not necessarily influence future premiums. But depending on the number of previous claims you’ve filed, you may face consequences. Some insurance companies could decide not to provide coverage at all or they may increase your deductible. If you’ve already filed three other hailstorm damage claims in two years, for example, it may not be worth it.