Hailstorms are a nightmare for car owners. They're not only extremely destructive, but sometimes the widespread nature of these events can quickly bring repair shops to a standstill. Thousands of drivers will be seeking repair services to fix their broken glass and heavily dented cars, meaning you might be stuck with a damaged car for an extended period.
So, what do you need to know about getting your vehicle repaired if you get caught in a hailstorm, and what can you do to prevent hail damage in the first place? In this post, we will answer some of those questions.
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7 Ways to Protect Your Car from Hail Damage
1. Watch the Sky and Monitor the Weather
How can you avoid hail damage? The simplest thing to do is to stay alert when severe weather threatens by monitoring a weather app on your mobile phone. When the National Weather Service issues warnings for severe thunderstorms, they will also provide alerts if there is potential for hail. We should mention that not all hail is necessarily destructive, though.
To break glass or dent the sheet metal of cars hail needs to be bigger than the size of a quarter, while hail that is golf ball sized and larger will cause considerable damage. The good news is that a majority of hail-producing storms create hail smaller than this, so the likelihood of being caught in such a storm without any warning is pretty low.
2. Invest in a Carport
If you don’t have a garage but have space and a few hundred dollars to spend, it’s smart to purchase a carport. They’re reasonably easy to set up and cost less than the deductible you’d have to pay for any hail damage. There’s also the added benefit of keeping your car in the shade, which helps to keep it cooler on hot days and prevents UV damage to your paint and interior.
3. Get a Car Cover
Car covers can provide protection if you purchase the correct one. Standard car covers are typically nothing more than fabric. They are intended to protect your vehicle from damage due to UV light, rain, dust, and dirt so they will not adequately protect your car from hail.
Amazon does sell a specialized inflatable hail protection cover which will provide the necessary protection. Unfortunately, it’s quite expensive so other options may make more sense for you especially if you don’t live in a particularly hail-prone area.
4. Cover Your Car with Blankets
A poor man’s option to the inflatable car cover might be blankets, which may help to cushion the blow of unusually large hailstones. Make sure you are covering the entire car with blankets, and especially the side windows which are much more easily broken.
5. Place Your Floor Mats over Your Windshield
Another low-cost option that will at least save your windshield glass is using your floor mats to cover your windshield glass. While it won’t protect your side glass or your car’s body, it may keep the windshield from cracking and/or breaking, allowing you to drive your car away after the hailstorm passes.
6. Take Cover in a Safe Location
If you know a hail producing storm is on its way, it’s a good idea to leave the area, or at least find some type of cover if you can’t get away from it. Do not park your car under a tree—it does not provide adequate protection, and strong winds may bring down branches and/or the tree itself, potentially putting you at risk of injury or death.
Instead, think of things such as covered parking garages, underneath a sturdy gas station or bank drive-thru awning, or aside of buildings facing the direction from which the storm is coming in from. The key here is to find as much shielding as possible, both from the side and especially the top of your car.
7. If You’re Caught Driving in a Hailstorm Slow Down and Find a Safe Place to Pull Over
Getting caught in a hailstorm while driving is frightening, but you need to act quickly and calmly. First, stay in your vehicle. Hailstorms can become quite large and fall at an exceptionally high rate of speed, which can cause serious bodily harm. Use your car as protection.
Next, slow down. Racing through hail is not going to lessen the damage to your car, in fact, it might make it worse. The combination of you moving through the storm at a high rate of speed combined with the fast fall of the hail is a recipe for disaster.
Finally, find a safe place to pull over, and find cover if possible using the tips we just discussed. Do not stop on the road itself (this can cause a dangerous bottleneck and lead to more accidents). If the shoulder of the road is already filled with cars, you’ll have to find somewhere else to go.
If you cannot find a safe place to stop with shelter, angle your car so that the hail is hitting your windshield versus your side windows. The windshield glass is much thicker and can withstand larger hailstones without completely shattering compared to your side or rear windows. If possible, cover your face and head with a blanket or coat and lie down with your face away from the windows to protect yourself from potential flying glass.
Ford has produced a video on how to drive in hail with the above tips and more, which we highly recommend watching, so you know how to deal with hailstorms if you get caught driving in one.
Does My Insurance Cover Hail Damage?
It depends. If you are carrying comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, chances are you’re covered for any repair costs after paying your deductible. If you lease or have a loan on your car, you’re required by law to carry both comprehensive and collision coverage. Once you fully own your vehicle, you’re not required to carry comprehensive coverage, and in many states, you don’t need collision either.
At a minimum, you must carry liability insurance to cover the damage and injury of other drivers and property. If your insurance is liability only, then there is no hail damage coverage. For more specific information, check out this article to learn what’s covered, and what’s not.
While hail damage isn’t always preventable, we hope that the tips we’ve provided here will help you be better prepared to protect yourself and your car if you are faced with an impending hailstorm or are caught driving in one. If you live in a hail-prone area, we’d love to hear any tips you may have to share with others based on your own experiences. Let us know in the comments below. For more information on driving in dangerous conditions, read our article about black ice.