Car insurance policies for hail and storm damage

The prospect of paying for repairs on a hail-damaged or flooded car is no doubt on the minds of many car owners this storm season, especially with more rainfall and cyclones predicted in the months ahead. Thankfully, there are some car insurers that offer cover for hail and floods.

Many car insurance providers in Australia offer hail, storm and flood cover for people as part of a comprehensive car insurance policy. This is the top-level insurance cover option and can be more expensive than other types of car insurance. However, opting for this higher level of cover if it suits your needs could give you greater peace of mind.

That might be more important than ever for some Australians, given the Bureau of Meteorology has released a severe weather outlook for October 2020 to April 2021, showing the La Niña weather system is expected to bring an increased risk of flooding for eastern Australia and more tropical cyclones in the north.

Which car insurance policies cover hail and storm damage?

According to Canstar’s research, there are a number of comprehensive car insurance policies on our database that will offer cover for accidental damage including hail, storm and flood damage, among other things.

When looking for a car insurance policy that covers accidental damage from hail, storm or flood, you might want to consider the policies rated by Canstar that also reward you when you don’t otherwise claim – those that offer a no-claims bonus (NCB) on hail or flood claims.

It’s a good idea to have a read of the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or other terms and conditions of any car insurance policy you’re considering, to double-check your provider will definitely cover you for hail and storm damage. If you have a comprehensive policy, it will generally cover you up to the maximum amount shown on the insurance certificate, although bear in mind that many policies may have an excess which will be subtracted from this amount.

You may also find your provider will pay the “reasonable cost” of towing, recovery and storage of your vehicle if it is unsafe to drive as a result of the storm damage. Of course, not every car insurance provider is the same, so be sure to check out what exactly is included in your policy.

What are the different types of car insurance?

Comprehensive car insurance is the most likely to cover you for hail and storm damage, but what are the other types of car insurance out there? Understanding the different policies available is important when deciding which could work out best for you.

Here are the four types of car insurance you might come across:

Compulsory third party (CTP)

As the name suggests, this insurance is compulsory. CTP covers you against claims for compensation in the case of injury or death of another person in a motor vehicle accident you are involved in.

Third party property

This is the most basic, optional type of car insurance. Third party property insurance covers damage caused by your car to other people’s property and also your legal costs if you get caught up in legal proceedings as a result of the damage.

Third party, fire and theft

This type of policy covers damage to other people’s property and also some cover for your own car if it’s damaged or lost due to fire or theft.

Comprehensive car insurance

This policy covers everything mentioned in the previous two insurance types, plus accidental damage to your own car, irrespective of who is at fault. There is also usually a range of optional extras available under a comprehensive car insurance policy, such as windscreen cover and car hire following an accident.

How to claim for hail or storm damage

Anyone dealing with the aftermath of a storm who has experienced damage to their car should photograph the damaged or destroyed items once it’s safe to do so and then contact their insurer.

Your vehicle may be assessed to check the car and review any damage, and if possible, repaired. According to Bingle, assessors may consider a variety of factors such as what it would cost to repair the damage and if it’s worth doing so.

If the damage is repairable, your insurer may arrange for the car to be fixed. If the damage is extensive, it’s possible the vehicle may be deemed to be a write-off (also known as a total loss) by your insurer, which would mean the insurer would pay you a total loss payment based on your car’s market value, less any unpaid excess, premiums or unpaid registration. In some cases, it may even be possible to have your car replaced with a brand new car of a similar make and model if you have ‘new for old’ cover (which is typically available under a comprehensive car insurance policy).

6 tips to protect your car from storm damage

According to RACQ, the repair bill for hail damage to a car can often exceed $5,000, and even minor damage can take a week or more to repair at a garage. Plus there’s the risk your car could be completely written off, which could be likely if it is severely damaged, meaning the cost of repairs could exceed the value of the car.

Regardless of whether or not you have comprehensive car insurance to cover storm, hail and flood damage, it’s worth considering these few tips from RACQ to help keep your car out of harm’s way in storm season.

  1. If a storm is forecast, try to make plans to store your car undercover and use other means of transport. If your home is flood-prone, try to organise a safe parking alternative.
  2. Don’t place yourself or others at risk – try to find safe shelter if you are caught in a storm. Trees are generally a bad idea due to falling branches.
  3. Avoid speeding up to beat a storm, as this can easily lead to a crash.
  4. Turn on your lights to improve visibility on the road.
  5. As the common warning goes: “if it’s flooded, forget it”.
  6. Consider investing in a padded car cover to prevent or reduce hail damage. According to RACQ, these can typically cost from $200 to over $500.

This article was reviewed by our Sub-editor Tom Letts before it was published as part of our fact-checking process.

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