In recent years, the local climate has experienced some severe weather conditions such as the freak hailstorms that swept through Sydney. Hailstones bigger than golf balls rained down on streets causing damage to property and vehicles. Sadly, this sort of weather is becoming all too common and even in a hailstorm that was not as severe as the ones experienced by Sydney residents, your car can still receive a number of dings and dents. When this happens, there are a couple of things you need to know about hail damage insurance claims.
Don’t immediately assume the car is a write-off
Depending on the amount of damage sustained, the bill for your hail damage car repair may be more than the value of the car itself or it may be unsafe to drive. In insurance terms, this would be classed as a write-off. However, you need to speak to a professional car body work company so that you get the full picture of what you are going to be dealing with in terms of repair. If your car is written-off, then its registration is cancelled and this is recorded on a Written-Off Vehicle Register and the details cannot be taken off this register.
As soon as you spot the damage, you need to contact your insurers. If you have comprehensive insurance cover then you can make a claim towards the cost of any repairs. The important thing is not to delay this. Depending on when the damage occurs, don’t forget that during national holidays or the Christmas break, if there is a shutdown period, this can delay your claim further. Once you have lodged a claim, the insurer will take you step by step through the next part of the process. Do note that you may have to wait – if there are a number of applications being processed, the next step is to see if you can drive the car while awaiting repairs.
Ensure it is safe to drive the car
Cosmetic damage to the vehicle should not affect its driving performance and safety features, so a chip or dint to the bonnet or roof is not going to cause problems. Even a small chip or two to the windscreen, provided they do not obscure the driver’s vision, means you can still drive the car. However, windscreens that are broken, windscreen wipers that don’t work or defective tail lights mean the car will be classified as a defective vehicle. If driven, then you could be fined and have a loss of demerit points on your license and this depends on the severity of the defect. A panel works expert can give advice on the severity of the damage, although it is not their remit to state if the car is safe to drive or not. However, if told the damage is severe, you need to heed their advice and make the decision not to drive it. Your insurance company will be able to guide you through this process if you are in any doubt.
Retain, repair or remove a write-off?
There are very few reasons which will allow you to have a vehicle repaired that has technically been written off, however hail damage is one of the few reasons. Most places across Australia will allow repair and re-registration but it is imperative that you do some research to find out the steps to take in your state and territory. For car owners in Victoria, for example, you will need to check with VicRoads to find out how you are able to keep and repair your written-off vehicle. If you then get approval to repair the car, it must be restored to industry standards which means using a reputable firm. You should get a certificate of compliance which shows the car meets the required standards and if you keep the vehicle, you get a reduced pay-out from your insurers. You have to declare the car as a repaired write-off as well if selling it later on.