How to Drive Safely in a Hailstorm

Hailstorms are bad enough to weather at home, but on the road, they can quickly lead to trouble. Depending on the severity of the weather, hail is often accompanied by many other hazardous conditions including high wind speeds, dark skies, thunder, lightning, and the possibility of a tornado.

Hailstorms can inflict significant damage in a relatively short period of time. Here is how to stay safe if you get caught driving through hail:

Pull over to the side of the road. Hailstorms can change quickly, and driving at any amount of speed increases the chance of a piece of hail damaging your vehicle’s windows. Make your way over to the side of the road and wait out the storm on the shoulder, or safely drive to a more sturdy structure, like a building. Gas stations are good shelters during a hailstorm. Park underneath the canopy to wait out the storm, and move into the gas station if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Stay in your vehicle. Unless some other immediate threat makes staying in your vehicle impossible, avoid getting out of your vehicle while hail is falling. Hail falls relatively fast and can injure you if you suffer a direct hit.

Position your car accordingly. Vehicle windshields are made with reinforced glass. Try to point your car so that it is facing the brunt of the falling hail. Side and rear windows are more likely to be damaged in directly hit by the hail.

Do not make assumptions about the hail. You may think you can drive safely if the hail is relatively small in size, but hail size varies. Larger pieces may start to fall without warning. If you are driving down the road and that happens, the damage to your vehicle is likely to be greater than if you stop on the shoulder, under a tree, or under an overpass.

In severe weather, seek adequate shelter first. Hail is often indicative of more severe weather patterns and may be signaling a tornado is about to hit. If you know of a safe place within a relatively short distance, drive to that destination instead of parking under an overpass or a tree. If you cannot find adequate shelter and the threat is imminent, leave your vehicle and move to a ditch or other low spot and lay flat.

Protect yourself from window damage. If you remain in your vehicle during a hailstorm, get in the back seat and lay down between the seats, keeping your back to the windows. Use blankets or a coat to cover yourself.

If you have comprehensive auto coverage, your car insurance will most likely cover the repair work your vehicle needs after a hailstorm. After the storm, take pictures of your vehicle’s damage, and record the storm information to the best of your ability. Contact your insurance provider, and talk to a claims representative. You do not have to use your insurance company’s recommended repair shop, and you can always seek a second opinion on the amount of damage done to your vehicle. Inspect your vehicle thoroughly after it has been repaired, and ask for a guarantee from the repair shop.

Consult an attorney if your insurance company refuses to honor your policy outline or otherwise unfairly handles your claim. Insurance companies who act against a policy’s specification are acting in bad faith. Policyholders can take legal action against insurance providers who fail to uphold their duties as a provider.

Avoid driving during hailstorms if at all possible, and check your auto insurance policy to see if it covers damage from hail. With a few simple precautions, you can decrease the amount of damage done to your vehicle and reduce the risk of injury.

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