Protecting your car from hail is an important step in auto maintenance. It’s almost springtime, which means it is time for storms for most of us in the United States. One small, five minute storm can lead to thousands of dollars in repair work. As a matter of fact, hail related insured losses between 2000 and 2019 averaged between $8 billion and $14 billion a year. So what is hail damage, and how can you protect your car from it?
Hail is not just frozen rain, though that can cause vehicle damage as well. Hailstones are formed by layers of water attaching and freezing in a large cloud. A frozen droplet begins to fall from a cloud during a storm, but is pushed back up into the cloud by a strong updraft of wind. When the hailstone is lifted, it hits liquid water droplets. Those droplets then freeze to the hailstone, adding another layer to it. The hailstone eventually falls to Earth when it becomes too heavy to remain in the cloud, or when the updraft stops or slows down.
Later model vehicles are made with thin sheet metal, to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle and provide better fuel economy. Because this metal is thin, hail damage is pretty easy to get. If there is freezing rain and strong winds, just frozen rain drops can hit with enough force to put dings in the panels of your roof, doors, trunk, and hood. It can take just a few ice beads falling off of a tree limb to put a ding in your vehicle. Being prepared can save you thousands of dollars.
Here are some tips to go about protecting your car from hail damage and some tips on what to do if and when the damage is done.
Take Before Photos
If you live somewhere where there are storms often, make sure you have sufficient “before” photos of your vehicle. This makes any damage that happens during a storm easy to detect for any insurance claims you will be filing after a hail storm.
Check Local Weather
The first step to prevent hail damage is to know when it is coming. It is best to be prepared with the local weather forecast to know when you should avoid your trip, park in covered parking or take other precautions. Consider signing up for weather alerts on your mobile device. The more advance notice you have, the better you can protect your assets. Make sure you know when inclement weather is due to arrive.
Make Emergency Plans
When you first become aware of a storm nearing your area, start taking the tips below as soon as possible. This is easiest when you have an emergency plan prepared before the storm. This way, you know exactly what you need to do when the time comes. Be sure to have an emergency plan prepared for other places you frequent often, such as your employer or family member’s home, to protect your vehicle from hail.
Find Covered Parking
The best way to protect your car from hail is to park it in a fully covered garage. Even if hail isn’t in the forecast, it is best to park in a covered area as often as possible to keep it free from debris or other possible damage. If you don’t have a garage, think about installing a carport. Additionally, try to park your car in covered parking anytime you are away from home. If you are driving when the hail begins, pull it over and park under a bridge or overpass to shield your car from the hail as soon as possible.
Buy A Car Cover
A car cover is a great option for hail if you don’t have a garage. Make sure that you get a quality car cover that is strong and durable. Some may be frustrating to install, so make sure to practice putting them on to be truly prepared. There are also car tents and portable carports that you can set up to protect your vehicle. Even with a car cover, there are no guarantees that damage will not happen to your car.
In the future, there may be sturdier car tents, car ports, and even inflatable car covers to protect your vehicle from hail storms and any other inclement weather or debris.
Use Blankets or A Tarp
If you do not have a car cover or covered parking available, you can cover your vehicle with tarps or blankets. Use many thick blankets to provide the best protection. Secure the blankets with a paint safe tape to ensure they do not fly away during the storm. If you don’t have blankets available, you can also use your floor mats to protect the vehicle. It is best to protect your auto glass before you protect other parts of the car. None of these are fail safe ways to protect your car, but something is better than nothing when it comes to a hail storm.
Insurance and Hail Damage
The best time to know your insurance coverage is before you need it. When getting insurance, check into getting comprehensive coverage if you live somewhere where it typically hails. Hail damage can cost an upwards of nearly $5,000. A deductible is a lot easier than spending thousands of dollars to repair any damage.
Driving In Hail
If you are driving when hail starts, pull your vehicle over and try to find shelter as soon as possible. Parking garages, gas stations, or bridges are good options to park under during a hail storm. Try to wait out the storm until you can get yourself and your vehicle to safety. Do not get out of your car. Hail can injure you more than it can the car.
After The Storm
After the storm, the first thing you need to do is to call your insurance company to file a claim. Take pictures to compare with any before pictures you took in preparation. Follow your insurance company’s instructions to obtain estimates and then get your car repaired.
Auto glass is an easy target when it comes to hail storms. Protecting your car from hail is an important step when maintaining your vehicle. Make sure you protect your glass from storm damage, debris, and anything else that can impair your visibility on the road. If you need help, contact us at SWP Auto Glass so we can assist you right away!