How to protect your car from hail

12 minute read Published on Dec 28, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

Close up of a car windshield covered in hail

Protecting your car from damage is critical. Even if you have car insurance, it’s still important to reduce the risk that your car faces. One of the main risks your vehicle faces is damage due to weather. Hail specifically can wreak havoc on a car. Below, we explain how you can protect your car from hail, including what types of auto insurance will cover you for hail damage.

What is hail?

Hail is a type of solid precipitation in which pellets of frozen rainfall from the sky. This weather phenomenon typically occurs in cold weather, making it most common in the fall and winter in Canada. Hailstorms often come on suddenly and involve a downpour of ice pellets. These ice pellets, also known as hailstones, can range in size from pebble-like to bigger than a baseball. Given how hard and large hailstones can be, it likely won’t surprise you that they can damage your car. Depending on the size of the ice pellets, a hailstone could result in dents, scratches, or even broken windows or cracked windshields.

Keep your vehicle safe from hail

As a motorist, you should do everything in your power to keep your car safe from hail, especially if hail storms and thunderstorms are common where you live. The BrokerLink team has put together a list of tips to help protect your vehicle from damage due to hail:

Park in a covered location

The first way to keep your car safe from hail is to park it in a covered location. If you have a closed garage or carport, park it there. However, if you don’t have access to a garage and you feel a hailstorm coming on, find cover under any structure.

For example, you could even park under a building’s overhanging roof. If you take cover somewhere that only has a roof, position your car so it's facing the opposite direction that the wind blows, as hail tends to fall on an angle influenced by the wind. In addition, do not park under bridges or trees, as falling debris or tree branches are more likely during a hailstorm and can cause extensive damage.

Pull over onto the side of the road

Our second tip is to pull over onto the side of the road as soon as you notice hail falling. Driving in inclement weather is difficult and dangerous, and hail is perhaps one of the most dangerous types of weather. The hard chunks of ice can be extremely disorienting and distracting while driving.

It’s also worth noting that hailstones fall at very high speeds, so if you continue driving, especially if you’re driving at a high speed, the combined speed could increase the impact of the pellet hitting your car. That is why it’s crucial that you pull over as soon as possible and wait out the storm. Ideally, find cover to protect you using the tip above.

Buy car insurance coverage

If you want financial protection from hail, your best bet is to purchase a car insurance policy that covers hail damage. In fact, one of the biggest car insurance mistakes is not adding comprehensive coverage to your no-fault insurance policy.

Comprehensive coverage, which we will explain more below, is a type of optional coverage that can compensate policyholders in the event that their parked car is damaged due to an insured peril. Examples of insured perils are fire, theft, vandalism, water damage, windstorms, hail, and falling objects. By adding this type of coverage to your policy, your insurance company will help pay to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged by hail.

Purchase a hail car cover or blanket

Purchasing a hail cover is another effective method of protecting your car from hail. This is a must for anyone who doesn’t have a covered garage but can also be useful to those with garages in case you are caught in a hailstorm while on the road.

There are all types of hail car covers available, though no matter which you choose, they function the same: A hail car cover is an inflatable or multi-layer sheet that you pull over your car. These types of covers can prevent dents, scratches, and even shattered windshields.

Another similar option is to purchase a hail blanket. These are cheaper than car covers as they are not as thick and therefore do not provide as much protection, but they can still be somewhat effective. Just make sure to properly install the hail blanket on your car, tucking the ends of the blanket inside the doors, under the hood, and inside the trunk lid.

Cover your windows with floor mats or rugs

In a pinch, if you don’t have access to a hail car cover or hail blanket, you can grab the floor mats or rugs in your car and place them on top of your windshield. Place the softer side against the glass and the rubber side facing up.

Try towels or boxes

Two other last-minute options are to cover your windshield and windows with towels or cardboard boxes. Although these options won’t be as effective as a hail car cover or parking in a garage, cushioning the blow of the hail with towels or boxes could still minimize the damage done to your car.

Fold in your side-view mirrors

As soon as you notice hail falling from the sky and after you’ve pulled over onto the side of the road, fold in your side-view mirrors. These mirrors are prone to breaking, especially in inclement weather conditions, like high wind and hail, and folding them in can reduce the odds of this happening.

Research the parking garages in your area

Another tip to keep your car safe from hail is to know where the nearest parking garages are in your area. If you have a good idea of where the parking garages in your town are located, especially those nearest your home and office, you will have a place to go as soon as you suspect a hailstorm.

What to do after a hailstorm

You were driving, a hailstorm started, you pulled over to ride out the storm safely, and now it’s over. What should you do next? Once the storm has passed and it is safe to step out of your vehicle, inspect it for damage. If you followed the tips above, then your car is unlikely to have suffered any damage.

However, if you weren’t so lucky, then you may find a dent, scratch, or crack somewhere in your car. If this is the case, you will need to repair your vehicle. You can take your car to a local auto body shop or car dealership to have it repaired, paying for the repairs out of pocket.

Although, if you have comprehensive car insurance, then your best bet is to file a claim with your insurance company. To prepare your car insurance claim, take photos and videos of the damage. Once home, wash the car to remove any dust, dirt, or water stains. Next, dry it thoroughly in order to avoid rust.

Insurance coverage and hail damage

Having the right insurance coverage can make a big difference if your car suffers from hail damage. Many types of car insurance are mandatory in Canada, including third party liability car insurance, but the type that will protect you from property damage caused by hail is referred to as comprehensive car coverage, and it is not mandatory. Thus, you will need to purchase more than standard coverage in your province if you want to be covered for the cost of hail damage.

Please keep in mind that all comprehensive coverage has a deductible and a limit, and you will have to pay your deductible before the insurance company steps in and pays for the rest of the damage in the event of a hail-related car insurance claim. Further, your insurer will only issue a payout up to the coverage limit.

Does car insurance cover me for hail damage?

Your car insurance policy may cover you for hail damage, although it depends on what coverage you have included with your plan. If you have basic car insurance, you likely will not be covered for any damage due to hail.

However, if your policy features comprehensive coverage, your insurer may help pay to repair your vehicle if it suffers damage in a hailstorm, such as a dent, scratch, or cracked windshield.

Is comprehensive coverage required in Canada?

No, comprehensive coverage is not a legal requirement in Canada. Other types of coverage are required, such as third-party liability coverage and accident benefits coverage. However, comprehensive coverage is a type of optional coverage, along with collision coverage, loss of use coverage, accident forgiveness coverage, and waiver of depreciation.

Thus, it is up to you to decide whether you want to add comprehensive coverage to your policy. However, it must be emphasized that if you want financial protection against hail damage, you must buy comprehensive insurance coverage.

It is also worth noting that comprehensive coverage may be obligatory if you lease or finance your car, as some leasing companies require all lessees to buy comprehensive protection.

How does comprehensive coverage protect you?

Comprehensive coverage, also known as parked car insurance, protects vehicles from damage while parked. Specifically, it will cover you if the damage results from an insured peril, like fire, theft, vandalism, falling or flying objects, riots and civil disturbances, explosions, natural disasters and weather, including hail. As you can see, comprehensive coverage safeguards drivers against all sorts of non-collision-related damages.

Comprehensive coverage does not cover everything

Despite the name, comprehensive coverage does not cover everything. In fact, there are several situations that it will not cover. These include collision-related damage, personal items stolen from your car, and more. Keep reading for a list of what comprehensive insurance does not cover below:

  • Damage to your car resulting from a collision
  • Medical expenses resulting from a collision
  • Damage to another driver’s car resulting from a collision
  • Medical expenses for another person resulting from a collision
  • Your car being stolen by a member of your household
  • Damage to your rental car from a collision

How to file a car insurance claim for hail damage

If your car is damaged in a hailstorm, it’s critical that you file an insurance claim as soon as possible. Please note that you may only be able to file an insurance claim with your provider if your policy features comprehensive coverage.

When you file a claim, you will need to submit as much information about the damage as possible. Take photos and videos of your car following the storm, and write down key facts about the incident, like the date, time, and location.

You can then submit this evidence and information alongside your claim. Once your claim is filed, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to investigate your claim. They will likely visit you so that they can inspect the vehicle damage in person. The adjuster will also do some independent research to determine how much the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle would be.

From there, they will make a recommendation to the insurance company as to whether your claim should be approved or denied, and if so, how much money you should receive. As the final step, your insurance company will contact you to let you know about the status of your claim. If approved, they will explain how and when you can expect to receive the payout.

What car insurance looks like in Canada

To give you an idea of how car insurance works in Canada and how it can protect you from the risks of the road, including hail damage, we break down the different types of coverage available to drivers. Some of these are mandatory while others are optional:

Third party liability coverage

Third party liability coverage is a type of car insurance that protects you if you cause a car accident.

For example, if you collide with another vehicle and it results in property damage or bodily injury, third party liability coverage can help pay for the associated costs, such as repair bills, legal fees, or medical expenses.

Accident benefits coverage

Accident benefits coverage will help pay for the cost of medical attention if you get into an accident and someone involved is injured.

For instance, if you break your wrist or a passenger gets a concussion, accident benefits coverage can pay for any physical therapy or prescription medications you require.

It can also cover funeral fees in the event that someone dies in the accident, or lost income if someone is temporarily unable to due to the accident.

Direct compensation coverage

Direct compensation coverage will pay to repair your car if it suffers damage in an accident that you did not cause.

Uninsured automobile coverage

Uninsured automobile coverage can pay for the costs of a collision if the accident involved an at-fault driver who is underinsured, uninsured, or anonymous.

For instance, if you get into a hit and run, uninsured automobile coverage can compensate you for the applicable medical fees, repair fees, or legal fees.

Collision coverage

Collision coverage is optional and will pay for your vehicle to be repaired or replaced if you get into an accident that results in extensive damage to your vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you caused the accident or if the accident was with another car, animal, or grounded object on the road.

In other words, collision coverage can protect you against common car accidents, as well as less common types of accidents, such as those involving animals. Please note that as with comprehensive coverage, collision coverage is mandatory in certain situations, such as if you lease or finance your car.

Comprehensive coverage

Comprehensive insurance is another type of optional car insurance coverage, and it is designed to protect against non-collision incidents, such as if your parked car is dented or scratched due to hail.

As mentioned above, comprehensive coverage protects drivers from damage caused by certain perils, ranging from fire and theft to vandalism, falling objects, natural disasters, and weather.

Accident forgiveness coverage

One more type of optional car insurance coverage popular among drivers is accident forgiveness. Accident forgiveness is additional coverage that can be added to your car insurance policy as an endorsement to protect your driving record and help prevent your insurance premium from increasing if you have an at-fault accident claim.

Note: coverage and eligibility varies by province.

Waiver of depreciation

A waiver of depreciation will pay you to replace your vehicle in the event of a total loss. Unlike other types of coverage that account for depreciation, waiver of depreciation does not. This means that your insurance payout will cover you for the full value of the vehicle.

Loss of use coverage

Loss of use coverage is another type of optional coverage for drivers. Although it will not protect you against hail, it can protect you if your car is damaged due to hail and needs to go into the shop for days or weeks on end.

During this time, you would be without your car, which means you would be forced to find other ways to get around. Loss of use coverage can pay for these alternate ways of getting around, including renting a car, taking public transit, or hiring taxis or ride shares.

Keep in mind that the main type of coverage that will protect you against hail damage is comprehensive coverage. That said, the other types of coverage on this list will still benefit you, protecting you from a wide range of other losses, like collisions and bodily injury.

Get in touch with BrokerLink to learn how you can protect your vehicle from hail

If you still have questions about protecting your car from hail or what types of car insurance will cover you for hail damage, contact BrokerLink. A BrokerLink insurance advisor can offer all kinds of information and advice. We are auto insurance experts, which means we can explain how car insurance works, as well as how much it costs. If you want to know how much car insurance is per month in Ontario or how car insurance companies determine premiums, contact us today. At the same time, you can request a free auto insurance quote, including one that features comprehensive coverage, so you know how much a policy that covers hail damage will cost you.

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