hail damage on a car roof

Image Credit: Paul Sableman / flickr

Can Car Covers Protect Against Hail Damage?

Written By John Linden

It’s no surprise that Mother Nature can damage our property, including our cars. Wintery weather can have a detrimental impact on our vehicles, especially when it comes to hail, which is basically circular pieces of solid ice pelting down from the sky. Intense thunderstorms can come with vicious winds and destructive hail, which can range from very small to somewhere around 4.0-inches in diameter. (The largest hailstone recorded in U.S. history was 8.0 inches in diameter!)

Obviously, the best way to avoid hail damage to your car is to park inside, but this is not possible for everyone so many of us have to find other ways to protect our cars. Other options, as will be outlined, are inflatable hail systems and hail car cover. It is important to know that while car covers may not be as useful and protective than a carport, they are better than taking no measures at all.

hail storm on car parking lot

Image Credit: Juliochavez6827 / Wikimedia Commons

Three Best Strategies for Protecting from Hail Damage

  1. Park inside or under a sturdy structure.

  2. Carports can cost upwards of $1,500 depending on the specifics of them - some are much more expensive. However, if you consistently park in an area that is susceptible to hail storms and a carport is an option, it might be a really good investment, seeing as it could save you thousands of dollars in car repairs in the future. If you’re out and about and a hailstorm hits, some temporary options are to park under a covered gas station or beneath a highway bridge.

  3. Invest in an Inflatable Hail Protection System.

  4. Many car owners have no idea inflatable hail protection systems exist, but they are effective and unique-looking devices that can save your car from massive damage. Just like the name suggests, these inflate to protect cars from large hailstones. These can cost upwards of $500 but come with a remote and can run on a battery or on an AC adapter.

  5. Buy a hail car cover.

  6. As stated, even if you cannot park under a carport or in a garage, it is important to protect your vehicle at least a little. There are many car covers on the market that can claim they can protect your car from getting scratched and dinged all over, but make sure you are buying a reliable hail one. A car cover can provide a barrier between the hail and your vehicle. Depending on what type of car cover you buy, you may also want to reinforce it with bungee cords, blankets, mats, and so on to create a more secure and reliable barrier.

    There are many types of car covers on the market today, and most have a weatherproof exterior and an inner fleece liner. Many have multiple layers and are thicker, therefore offering better protection against harsh weather conditions. Most can handle small hail and strong winds, meaning car covers do indeed protect against hail damage.

When and Where Hail is the Most Prominent

While hailstorms are most prominent from May to July, they can happen at any time during the year. The Fall and Winter seasons are tame compared to the summers, but they can surprise people when they’re not expecting them. This brings the question of why icy hail is more prominent in the summer when it’s hot. According to WeatherBug, “surface temperatures are warm enough to promote the instability associated with strong thunderstorms, but the upper atmosphere is still cool enough to support ice.”

You must be on higher alert for hailstorms if you live in Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, or South Dakota, as the Insurance Information Institute notes that those are the five states that had the most hailstorms in 2019. While the western part of the U.S. is relatively safe with infrequent hail storms and the middle of the U.S. is nicknamed “Hail Alley” and typically gets hit more often than other parts, it is important to know that hail can happen anywhere if the temperature and other weather conditions are sufficient for it.

How Expensive Hail Damage Can Get

Nobody wants to foot the bill for damage hail caused to their vehicle. The more damage, the more expensive it will cost, but even a little bit of damage can really be a hassle for bank accounts. According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurance companies probably shelled out $7.26 billion in hail damage repair from 2008 to 2014. Of course, this does not even include uninsured people or those who choose to pay the price out of pocket without dealing with an insurance claim.

Some people try to fix their cars by themselves after a hail storm, but it isn’t always effective and oftentimes does more damage than good. Some people try to use the temperature changes dry ice or hair dryers can cause to pop out the dents, but these only work on small dents that have done minimal damage (assuming they work at all). Auto supply stores usually stock do-it-yourself hail damage kits for around $100, but these are oftentimes very time consuming and not effective, especially if a car has dozens of dents. That said, it’s best to hire an expert for help, which can get really pricey.

In general, the average cost of hail damage repair is around $2,500. Hailstorms can leave several areas of damage to a vehicle, each of which is not cheap to fix. Small dents can cost around $40 to fix, and the price increases steeply for even bigger dents. The price will be even more extreme if the hail has shattered your windshield and/or your windows, and hail can even do damage to your tail lights and headlights, which seem insignificant but can increase the final cost quite a bit.

If your car’s body panels or roof need to be replaced, expect a hefty bill that might cost more than your car is even worth.

Ultimately, if your car has been damaged by hail, the total cost for you will depend on the amount of dents, the size of the dents, whether or not the dented areas will need to be repainted, and if windows, the windshield, mirrors, lights, and other things have been destroyed in the storm. In the end, if the storm was really bad, it can end up costing you more than the options you have to protect from them.

How to Know when a Hail Storm is on the Way

Of course, your local weather report will tell you if some hail might be headed to your area. Many people may get automatic alerts on their phones, especially in urban areas. If the sky looks “scary” and really gray - or even black - hail may be coming. Lightning is also normally associated with hail. You’ll see thunderstorm clouds and you may feel a quick, severe drop in temperature, as cold fronts are a good indication a hailstorm is brewing.

Conclusion

As you can see, hail can wreak a lot of havoc to your vehicle and it can end up costing your hundreds or thousands of dollars. Therefore, the best option is always to prevent hail damage from happening. Getting a carport or parking under a secure structure is your best bet, but inflatable hail protection systems and car covers can also be solid investments to protect your car from too much damage.