Storm and hail damage car insurance

Houses and cars getting hit by hail and damaged during a storm.

When you’re comparing car insurance policies, you want to make sure you’re on the lookout for all the important features that are relevant to you and your wheels. While some of these might be more specific to your personal circumstances – like wanting cover for baby capsules or car modifications – you might assume more general protections like cover for storm and hail damage are included as standard. 

But since every insurance policy and provider has different inclusions, limits and claims eligibility, it always pays to double check what is covered and what might be car insurance exclusions. So, we’ve dug through the fine print to see how you might be covered for storm and hail damage specifically, and what some limits to that coverage could be.

Does all car insurance cover hail damage?

This will depend on the level of car insurance you have. With most comprehensive car insurance policies, it’s likely that hail damage is included as standard. 

Like vehicle damage caused by flooding, this is generally covered under the comprehensive policy inclusion of ‘accidental damage’. 

If you have a lower tier policy like third party car insurance, it’s unlikely hail damage will be covered since these policies usually only insure you for damage you cause to other cars, not repairs for your own vehicle. 

However, even if your comprehensive policy does cover damage caused by hail, there are usually waiting periods between when you take out the policy and when coverage kicks in. These vary between insurance companies, but generally sit around the three or four day mark – so it’s unlikely that you’ll be covered for hail damage if you purchase an insurance policy on the day of the offending hail storm.

It’s also important to remember that you’ll usually need to pay an excess when you make a car insurance claim. This is a set amount you pay (often known as the insurance ‘gap’) before coverage kicks-in, and can vary depending on your age, driving experience or the level you agreed to set it at when you first took out the policy. 

If your excess is $800 and repairs to your car after a hail storm come to $3,000, the amount your policy effectively pays for will be $2,200.

Which insurance provider has the best cover for storm and hail damage?

There are a few factors to consider when determining the best car insurance provider for storm and hail, and this will be different for each driver, their car and what they want out of an insurance policy. It might include cost considerations, to ensure you’re paying an affordable premium for this coverage.

You may also want to consider excess levels. While increasing your excess can reduce the cost of your premium, it may mean you’re paying more at claim time, which could affect how much of your hail or storm repair bill is covered by insurance. Similarly, you may want to investigate how your car’s windscreen is protected and what excess you’ll need to pay for this and other glass repairs, as these parts of the car are often more likely to see damage from severe weather.

Then, you might want to think about preventative measures. Some car insurance companies  like Budget Direct will send out alerts to customers when there’s a hail warning, so that you might have time to move your car to a protected area. However, severe weather warning systems are also freely available from sources like the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and news outlets.

What is storm damage to a car?

As mentioned above, storm damage normally sits under ‘accidental damages’ in a comprehensive car insurance policy. So long as you have sufficient evidence to show the damage was caused by a storm, this could include things like broken windows and windscreen glass, dents and scratches to the body of the car, and even damage to the engine and interiors caused by flooding.

While each policy will have different definitions of what events or circumstances storm damage results from, it usually refers to damage caused by one of the following events:

  • Thunderstorms and lightning
  • Hail and snow
  • Rainwater that rises to damage the vehicle, such as water overflowing from stormwater drains (this might come under some policies definition of ‘flooding’ which usually refers to natural watercourse like lakes and rivers overflowing).
  • Runoff, which is usually defined as overflow from swimming pools and tanks as a result of excess rainwater.
  • Storm surge, which you might see referred to as ‘actions of the sea’, and involves strong winds or sea movements pushing seawater onshore to damage property (sometimes storm surges are excluded).

Remember, each individual policy may have limits or exclusions for certain situations related to these events, so be sure to read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully for all the details.

What time of year does hail damage commonly happen in Australia?

While a hail storm or other damaging weather events can strike any time, there are some seasonal increases in storm frequency. In Australia, storm season is generally during the spring and summer months (using from October to April), when temperature increases and other weather patterns enhance storm growth.

Timeframes may shift slightly depending on where you live in Australia, and how prone that area is to severe thunderstorms, hail storms and cyclones.

How do I find the right car insurance for me?

This depends entirely on your personal circumstances, budget and needs as a driver. Therefore, choosing a car insurance policy can involve a lot of research and careful consideration.

Luckily, Mozo can help kick your research efforts into gear with the Mozo Experts Choice Awards for Car Insurance. Each year our team of dedicated researchers and analysts compares a variety of comprehensive car insurance policies to determine the best value and highest quality options for Australian drivers.

While every award winner may not suit your needs or budget, it’s certainly a good place to start when you’re trying to understand car insurance features and costs. If you’re after more detail on award-winning policies, we’ve done a rundown of a few of the best car insurance policies as chosen by our experts.

Other FAQs about storm and hail insurance:

  • When won’t I be covered for storm and hail damage?

If your insurance policy covers storm and hail damage, there may still be some circumstances where your claim for this kind of damage is rejected. This may be because: 

- The storm is considered as a ‘known event’ to you. Most types of insurance policies are there to protect against the unknown or unexpected. So, if you take out a policy knowing an emergency like a severe storm is underway, then it’s considered a ‘known event’ and it’s unlikely that the provider will cover you for it.

- You acted recklessly or otherwise put your car in harm's way. Your insurance won’t cover you if you knowingly caused the damage, like if you drove into flood water (against all government and insurance advice) or if you intentionally moved the car from your garage to the street during the storm.

- If there’s not enough evidence to prove the damage was caused by storm or hail. As with all insurance claims, you need to provide sufficient evidence of the circumstances of the event so your provider can determine whether or not it falls under an ‘insurable event’. To help sure-up your claim, you can take photos of the damage and the car in situ in the post-storm or hail conditions, and note down the event timeline for fact checking. 

  • Do you pay excess for hail damage?

Yes, as with other ‘accidental damage’ claims you’ll likely have to pay an excess for your insurance to then cover further costs of damages caused by hail. However, if your policy offers a $0 excess for windscreen and window glass repairs and replacements, then you may not have to fork out any funds.

Some policies include this as standard, others offer it as an optional extra for an additional fee, and some won’t offer concessions on windscreen excess at all. Similarly, some insurance providers will let you opt-in to pay a smaller amount than the standard excess (or include this offer as standard) – say $100 instead of $800 – as glass repairs can often be cheaper than others.

  • Does car insurance cover cars with pre-existing hail damage?

If you take out a car insurance policy on a vehicle that’s already been damaged by hail, you won’t be able to claim repairs on past events (time travel isn’t in most PDS). But if your car is still deemed roadworthy despite the damage and an insurance provider agrees to cover it under a comprehensive policy, then it should be covered for future hail damage.

However, not every insurance company will agree to cover cars with existing damage, may only offer third party insurance or might provide comprehensive cover for a higher premium. And if your car has been written-off before, insurance providers may not agree to insure the vehicle at all.

  • How do I protect my car from hail and storm damage?

The best way to protect your car against hail and storm damage is to park it somewhere sheltered and secure (parking in a garage could also reduce your car insurance costs). If this isn’t an option in the midst of a hail storm, aim for somewhere else protected – perhaps a shopping centre car park – or consider covering your car quickly with heavy blankets for protection if it’s safe to do so.

For more proactive planning, you might want to invest in a car cover specifically designed to protect against hail if you can’t access a secure parking spot. It also always pays to keep an eye out for severe weather warnings, or opt-in for hail and storm warning text alerts from your insurance provider if that’s an option.

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