How Long do I have to File a Hail Claim?
Do You Need Hail Damage Repairs in Billings?
We are right in the middle of hail season. That means one big storm can knock out hundreds, maybe even thousands of cars. So what happens if you have hail damage to your vehicle? What happens if things turn out like 2016 where damage repair was booked out for months? Here’s what you need to know when it comes to hail damage and how long you have to file a claim against your insurance.
Not All Hail Damage Needs Repaired
Often when there is damage to our vehicles, we want it fixed right away. We don’t often recommend letting damage go without repairs, especially when there could be underlying problems that you can’t see on the surface. But in the case of light hail damage, you can sometimes get away with not repairing the vehicle.
There are issues to be aware of when you don’t repair the hail damage. First, if you file an insurance claim, and collect the money but don’t repair, you won’t be able to get hail coverage in the future. It’s off the table at that point. Second, if you don’t have insurance that covers hail damage, you won’t be able to get coverage in the future until the damage is repaired.
Not All Hail Damage Needs Insurance Money
If there’s noticeable damage to your vehicle, then you will probably want to use insurance money to have it fixed. Otherwise your bill could be into the many thousands of dollars. But what if you only have a few noticeable dings on the vehicle? What if it’s just the hood that has damage? It could be in your beset interest not to file a claim.
Let’s suppose that you have a $1,000 deductible. The estimate to fix the hail damage comes to $1,800. That means your insurance pays $800 and you cover the rest. Is it worthwhile to have the incident on your insurance to save $800? It may increase your insurance rates (hail damage is considered an act of God, and some insurance companies don’t adjust rates for things like that).
The bottom line: sometimes it is better to pay out of pocket.
Not All Hail Damage is Repairable
Here’s the thing: all damage is actually repairable. Some damage, however, isn’t worth repairing. This is what it means when the vehicle is totaled out. When the cost to repair is more than the cost to replace, the insurance company won’t pay to have it repaired. They say you have to get a new vehicle.
At this point you have two choices. You can take the settlement (argue with them if you want, there is nothing that says you have to accept their initial offer; if it’s drastically low, you may want to get an attorney to help) and buy a new rig; the insurance company takes possession of the vehicle). You can also take the settlement and keep the vehicle in order to continue driving it. If you choose this, your settlement will be lower than if you give it up.
Not All Hail Damage Needs Repaired Immediately
Here’s the whole reason you came to read this article. How long after hail damage do you have to file a claim? The answer: it varies by state and insurer. Not quite the answer you were looking for, but we’ll do our best.
Here in Montana, the statute of limitations is at least two years. From the time the damage hits, to the time you file the claim, you have 24 months. Now before you wait, verify with your insurance company. Some say you have to file the claim within 12 months and have the repairs completed within 24 months. Others give you the full 2 years.
The waiting period is great for a few reasons. First, you will have to pay your deductible. That’s usually at least $500 out of pocket; something some people don’t have. Waiting even 6 months can help you save up the money to pay for the repairs. It’s also good when the auto body shop of your choice is backed up. The last major hail storm had Big Sky Collision Center scheduling repairs for more than 5 months out; that’s what happens when you’re the best auto body shop in Montana: you get backed up. The good news, however, is that we have two other centers: A&D Auto Body in Bozeman, and Big Sky Crash Repair in Livingston. If you need repairs sooner, the vehicles can often be fixed at those centers.
Big Sky Collision Center for Billings Hail Damage Repair
Whether it’s minor hail damage that can be fixed with paintless dent repair (PDR), or major repairs where the entire panels need replaced, we get the job done the right way. No shortcuts, no sloppy repairs, only the best for your vehicle.
If you get hit with hail damage, bring your vehicle to Big Sky Collision Center, the best place for hail damage repair in Billings.