Hail Damage Explained
Hail damage can write cars off, dramatically devalue vehicles and render them undrivable in a few seconds.
Here’s what you need to know about hail damage on cars.
Why is hail so bad these days?
Hail happens when raindrops in the upper regions of storm clouds freeze. For raindrops to freeze, it requires upward drafts to blow them up into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere.
Hailstones grow as they collide with extremely cold liquid in the clouds which freezes and sticks to the growing hailstone.
It seems severe hailstorms are getting more intense and frequent as climate change takes effect.
That’s not good news for anyone.
How much does it cost to fix?
Prices can add up and vary per location and the type of vehicle.
- Cracked windscreen / window: $60 small chip – $120 large crack
- Windscreen replacement: up to $2,000 but most common vehicles less than $1,000
- 1 panel with 1 hail dent, no painting required: around $75
- 1 panel with a few moderate hail dents: around $130 – $150
- 1 panel with several medium hail dents: around $225 – $300
- 1 panel with numerous heavy hail dents: around $350+
- Roof with heavy dents: $500 – $600
- Roof with numerous severe dents: $650 – $800
- Severely damaged large vehicle (eg. SUV): $3,000+
- Full respray of paint (if hail has chipped / cracked paint): $1,500 – $3,500+
- Full repair of severely hail damaged large high-end vehicle: can exceed $10,000
*Some vehicles may require roof replacements and/or suffer cracked sunroofs causing leaks, mould and damage to electrical equipment.
Is it worth the big bills?
Sometimes repairing hail damage can exceed 50% of the vehicle’s value or more. It’s these situations where valuers might consider it a write off.
Note that selling a car with hail damage is tough because it’s so visible. Some strategic car buyers even look for expensive vehicles with hail damage in order to low-ball the seller and then repair the vehicle after purchasing it.
If you’re on the selling end, dealing with hail damage is not much fun.
Does insurance cover hail damage?
It depends what form of insurance a motorist has.
Third party property damage won’t cover hail damage, nor will fire and theft.
Most comprehensive car insurance policies will cover hail damage, but to be sure, reach out to your provider.
Also, check if your policy covers car hire as that might be important to some people.
How big does hail have to be to damage cars?
It’s a hard question to answer. Hailstones form in different shapes and sizes, so you could be unlucky and get struck by a pointed one but the car next to you gets off scot free.
Generally, a hailstone 2.5cm in diameter or larger can dent a car, but that changes with wind and the force it impacts a vehicle.
Driving during a hail storm makes things worse.
Obviously, a vehicle travelling at high speed (or any speed) increases the impact of a hail stone.
If you get caught in a hail storm, pull over and don’t exit your vehicle. Ideally, if you can, park under cover, for example, in an underground car park.
If hail can dent a car’s metal panels and crack windscreen, it can hurt you.
Minimise hail damage
It can be really tough to minimise hail damage unless you park under cover, both at home and when you’re out.
Hail storms typically occur at the end of the cooler weather, in October / November, however the likelihood varies where you are. The northern parts of NSW see a lot of hail.
When the seasons are changing, try to keep an eye on the weather forecasts as you might get a heads up on storms and the chances of severe hail.
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