When a hailstorm hits your region your car may suffer the consequences if it's left outside. Hailstones, either large or small, can do considerable damage, leading to a trip to the body shop. Whether the repairs are covered by your insurance depends on your policy and on your deductible.
Hail damage usually isn't covered under a simple liability policy or collision policy. It would, however, be covered by a comprehensive insurance policy, which protects you against damage caused by something other than an accident. While comprehensive coverage isn’t mandatory in most states, your lender might make you get it if you're financing a purchase.
Depending on the size of the dents the hailstones there may be have some options to repair the damage. The traditional way is for a body shop to hammer the damage back into smoothness and repaint the area. However, minor damage may be able to be repaired by paintless dent removal, which uses tools on the underside of the damaged area to pop it back into place. Your insurer may ask you to consult with the body shop to see which option is best. Its concerns are minimizing costs and protecting the vehicle's value.
Even if hailstone damage is covered, it may not be worthwhile to file a claim. Comprehensive insurance carries a deductible and having a higher deductible -- the amount you pay out of pocket if there's a problem -- means having lower monthly payments. If the cost of repairing the damage is less than the deductible, it’s probably not worth contacting your insurance company about. Sometimes making a claim can raise your rates, so pay for the little stuff yourself.
There are several ways to protect your vehicle against hail damage. The most obvious solution is to park in a garage or covered area. If that’s not an option, covering the car with a thick blanket can blunt the impact of the hailstones. If you’re caught out in the hailstorm, find a shielded area to wait out the storm. Stopping anywhere, even in an uncovered parking lot, helps to some extent as the impact of hailstones is greater when your car is moving.