Storms are part of life, but some storms can be more dangerous than others… like hail storms. If you’re unlucky enough to have a hail storm hit your home, your car may now have hail damage. Unfortunately, automotive hail damage is a unique type of car repair for a few reasons:

  • Hail damage rarely happens to a vehicle, with whole suburbs typically affected (The 2018 Sydney hail storm did $675 million worth of damage!)
  • A hail damage write-off takes longer to process than normal write-offs
  • Write-offs from hail damage don’t always mean the end of your car

So when dealing with hail damage car repair, your approach will be different to other damage. You also might need to manage without a car for a while, as insurers and repairers could be dealing with hundreds of people with the same problem.

In this article we explain how to deal with hail damage repair, and how to get around without owning a car (not just using GoGet).

A hand full of hail stones that can cause major hail damage car repair bills

Does your insurance cover hail damage repair?

This is the most important thing. If your car insurance doesn’t cover hail damage then you’ll have to pull out the proverbial cheque book to get your car fixed. 

You typically need comprehensive car insurance for hail damage repair to be covered. Third party insurance covers other people’s property, but it won’t cover damage to your car. In the case of a two car accident where someone else is at fault, it’s their insurance that pays for your car, even if your insurer handles the paperwork.

What to do if you’re not covered for hail damage car repair

If you’re not covered, dealing with hail damage to your car is actually fairly simple.

First, you’ll need to get any windscreen damage repaired to a safe standard. Learn what windscreen cracks are safe/legal to drive with here. If your windscreen is cracked to the point of it being illegal to drive, you’ll need a mobile windscreen repairer to visit you or a tow to a nearby smash repairer.

Next, a smash repairer will decide if the car is safe to drive. If the hail damage hasn’t affected mechanical integrity of the car, you may be able to keep driving it as is. If it’s not safe to drive, your smash repairer will give you a quote for the repair. Hail damage repair bills can range anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000. In some extreme cases it can be even more.

If your car is safe to drive it’s a mixed blessing. You’ve still got a car, but its value will drop significantly. The new value will depend on the model of car and amount of damage, but you could see a value drop of 10%-50%, sometimes more than 50%.

Depending on the damage, you may have to spend some time without a car. If that’s the case, you’ll want to think how to get around without one. Scroll down (or click here) to see a few ways to live without a car.

A car windscreen hit by a cricket ball sized hail stone that will need for hail damage repair and windscreen replacement

Dealing with hail damage when you are insured

When your car is comprehensively insured, hail damage repair requires more work, and probably a lot of time talking to your insurance company. The good news is it should be a less expensive experience than if you didn’t have insurance.

First, contact your insurer. They’ll be busy with calls from other people in your area, so be patient when you get in touch. They’ll tell you what to do next, probably to get the car to a smash repairer or Paintless Dental Removal (PDR) specialist. The insurer can arrange a tow if your car is unsafe to drive.

Once your car is at the smash repairer or PDR specialist, they’ll decide whether it’s an economic write-off (see below for a definition). If it’s repairable for less than the insured value of the car, your insurer should fix and return it to you.

That repair could take a while, as there are likely hundreds of cars with hail damage in your area. In that case you should consider your alternative transport or car replacement options. Click here to jump to your car replacement options.

Selective focus image of large hail stones on wet grass

Hail damage write-offs

When the quote for automotive hail damage exceeds the insured value of a car, it will be classified as an economic write-off.

What is an economic write-off? 

An economic write off is when the cost to repair a car is more than the amount it’s insured for, which is generally 70% to 80% of the vehicles’ market value. In the case of an economic write-off your insurer will buy the car off you for the value it’s insured for, as would happen in normal write-offs. Unlike a typical write-off, the car could still be safe to drive.

After this, there are two things that could happen.

If the vehicle is safe to drive your insurer might let you buy it back from them at its new market value. Please check with your local transport authorities on how to get the car re-registered, as is can be quite difficult once the car’s been classed as an economic write-off.

If your insurer doesn’t let you buy the vehicle back, you’ll have to wait until they pay out your insurance policy. It’s also worth checking if you’re entitled to any unused portion of your insurance policy and unused registration you paid. This process could take a while, as insurance companies have backlogs at the best of times, let alone after a storm. 

That could leave you without a car for some time… read on for a few options you have to get around in the meantime.

A car roof covered in hail damage dents, due for a major hail damage repair bill

Alternative transport and car replacement

Okay, so the hail damage was bad enough that your car is being repaired or is written-off. Either way you’re stuck without a car. How do you get around in the meantime?

Assuming your insurance doesn’t offer car replacement (most don’t, unless you selected a hire car option) you have a few options, depending on your needs.

Car share (eg GoGet)

Yes, we’re biased, but car share is a great option for hail damage car replacement. You can book a GoGet by the hour or by the day, so you only pay for the hours you actually drive. You also get the choice of a dozen or so different car types, including hatchbacks, SUVs, vans, and People Movers… you can use a different car for every trip.

GoGet suits most round trips, and combined with public transport and taxis/ride share it offers an easy and cheap alternative to owning a car. Tens of thousands of GoGet members don’t own a car at all.

If you’re without a car, we’d love you to see if GoGet works for you. Join here or use the promo code HAIL at signup to get your first month free on our GoFrequent plan, plus free signup. That’s a $55 dollar saving ($30 monthly membership + $25 signup) and gives you access to cars from just $6.50 an hour + $0.40 per km.

After your first (free) month, you can choose to continue on the GoFrequent plan, or you can cancel your membership… there are no lock in contracts.

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Car rental

If you have to commute by car or you drive for a living, an old school rental car might make the most sense. They can get quite expensive though, so make sure you factor in the total cost, including rental insurance, extra kilometre charges, and fuel.

Public transport, taxi, and ride share

Depending on where you live, public transport might get you by. By supplementing public transport with taxi and ride share (eg Uber) when you need it, as well as some active transport (bike riding or walking) odds are good you can most places you need to without a car.

Of course public transport doesn’t always make sense… when there’s no station, a drive in the country, or on a major shopping trip. GoGet can help in those situations, with cars available by the hour. Give it a try with one month’s free membership on the GoFrequent plan… sign up here or use the promo HAIL when you join.

A lines up of GoGet car share vehicles on a city roof, including two hatchbacks, van, and SUV

Using your car’s hail damage to start anew

What ever your hail damage repair situation, it’s a chance to reset and make the future a little easier. If you end up buying another car, learn from the experience to minimise the chance of hail damage in the future. Keeping your car off the road and under cover during hail is ideal, but we’ve seen a few other creative ideas:

If you live without a car for a while, use it to see if car free living suits you. Car ownership costs around $7,000 a year, so selling your car for good is a great investment.

Of course, GoGet helps when you don’t own a car, giving you access to cars when and where you need them. GoGet is also a great way to replace your family’s second car… that means you could take a write-off as a payout and replace it with GoGet… it could pay for your next holiday!

If you’d like to try GoGet, join the GoFrequent plan with your first month free and no signup fee by using the code HAIL at signup. It’s a total saving of $55 ($30 membership + $25 signup). Continue after your first month, or cancel your membership with no strings attached.

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Disclaimer: The information on this page is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice.

About Lam Le

Lam is the manager of GoGet's damage and recoveries team. He has a background in automotive insurance and looks after all damage issues across the entire GoGet fleet. He's an expert on all things related to car insurance and smash repairs.