Question: My car received severe damage in a recent hailstorm. My car insurance company knows I have a garage, but the car wasn’t parked in it at the time of the storm. Could my insurer deny my claim because my car wasn’t in the garage? I’m in Texas.
Answer: No, your auto insurance company shouldn’t be able to deny your claim just because your car wasn’t in your garage. If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, then its hail damage is covered, minus your deductible. (More questions? See "Hail damage: What you need to know.")
It’s true that your car insurance provider would prefer that you had parked your car in the garage (and I’m sure you wish that as well) so that it would have been kept out of the storm, but they also should understand that just because you have a garage doesn’t mean your car will always be parked in it.
As the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) points out, thunderstorms that produce lightning and hail are unpredictable and dangerous. The TDI says that such storms are short, an average of only 30 minutes long, but occur approximately 100,000 times each year.
Your car insurance company can’t expect you to know when a storm that will produce hail will pop up and get your car home and in the garage before damage can occur.
Auto insurers know you may be away from home or even parked in your driveway but find it too dangerous to move the car once a storm has arrived. Unforeseeable natural occurrences such as this are one of the reasons you carry comprehensive coverage as protection for your vehicle.
The exception to this may be if you have a classic car with specialty insurance for it.
Most classic and collectible car insurance policies stipulate that the insured vehicle must be enclosed in a secure structure, when not in use, for certain coverages to be maintained. So, if you have a classic vehicle and keep it in the driveway instead of the garage, then your insurer may be able to take issue and deny your hail claim.
You said your hail damage was severe, so it’s a possibility that your car will be totaled out if the repair estimates are near or more than the worth of your car. If your car is totaled out from the hail damage, then your insurance provider would pay you its actual cash value (ACV) instead of it being repaired.
While this hail claim shouldn’t be denied, if it is, then Texas laws say that the insurance company would have to explain the reason in writing. You then can ask to see the policy language they used to make their decision to deny your car insurance claim.
Your agent should be able to answer specific questions once you make your hail claim. If you run into any issues, then contact the TDI who can give you consumer advice or let you file a complaint if you get into a dispute with your insurer.