Fix Hail Damage Or Keep The Money? (A Guide For Car Owners)

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: March 17, 2021

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Is it better to fix the hail damage on a car or keep the money? | Be The Budget

Until you’ve witnessed the power of a hail storm, it’s hard to understand the kind of damage they can do to a car. From a broken windshield to a dented hood, and in some cases, a completely totaled vehicle, those little balls of ice can pack quite a punch. 

That said, if you’ve ever received an insurance claim check to cover some hail damage to your vehicle, it can be hard to decide between paying for the repairs or just keeping the money. In fact, before we go any further, let’s first answer the question at hand: is it better to fix hail damage on your car or keep the money?

In short, if you own your car outright and the hail damage is minor, it usually makes sense to keep the insurance money. However, if you plan to continue driving your car and the damage is more substantial (or puts your safety at risk) then it’s best to opt for the repairs.

That being said, it’s important for you to understand that these are just general guidelines. Since every situation is different, the truth is that there isn’t a clear-cut answer.

But that’s exactly why, for the rest of this article, we’re going to discuss the 7 most important things you should take into account when deciding between fixing the hail damage on your car or keeping the insurance claim check.

1. Ownership Of The Vehicle

The very first thing you should consider is whether or not you own the car.

In other words, do you own the car outright, or do you owe money on it?

If you own the car outright, then you have complete control over what you decide to do. On the other hand, if you owe money on the car (i.e. you have a loan or the car is leased), then fixing the damage might actually be your only option.

In fact, your insurance company might not cut you a check at all. More than likely, they will just pay the repair shop directly–rendering this debate utterly pointless.

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2. The Extent Of The Damage

If the hail damage to your vehicle is extensive, then using the insurance money to fix the damage is probably a good idea. Whether it be a broken windshield, broken mirrors, or other issues, the more damage your vehicle sustained, the more reason you have to get your car repaired.

On the other hand, if the damage is fairly minor–I’m talkin’ a few dents here and there–then you may want to just keep the money and use it to save for your next vehicle purchase.

I mean, if the dings and dents are only cosmetic, and you can live with that, then I’m all for putting that money into savings. Especially if you use the money to help you save for your next vehicle.

3. The Value Of Your Car

One thing about hail damage is that it will show up on your vehicle’s history report. And once that happens, the value of your car will plummet.

I wish I had better news, but once a car sustains hail damage, you just won’t be able to get the same kind of money for it when you choose to sell it. And the more valuable your car was when the hail damaged it, the more you have to lose.

Therefore, when you are deciding to fix the hail damage or keep the money, I recommend looking into the value of your car, and assessing whether or not the money will be better used for repairs or just savings for your next car.

If you don’t think the repairs will bring your car back to a reasonable value, then keeping the insurance money is probably your best bet

Fix hail damage or keep the money? | Be The Budget

4. Your Safety

I think this one should be pretty self-explanatory, but if the hail damage to your car puts your safety at risk, then you should 100% get the damage fixed.

Even if you only use a portion of the money to get the car back to safe, working order, this is a no-brainer.

5. The Cost Of The Repairs vs. The Insurance Money

As with any form of damage to a vehicle, if the hail damage is going to cost you an arm and a leg to get fixed, it’s usually best to just get the repairs.

However, if the damage isn’t going to cost that much, you might want to consider putting the insurance money toward savings for your next vehicle.

That said, before you opt for the check over the repairs, we recommend getting quotes from multiple auto body shops. That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into should you ever decide to get the car fixed on your own.

The last thing you want to do is keep the money, and end up coming out-of-pocket for repairs that would have otherwise been covered by insurance had you gotten them fixed in the first place.

6. The Time It Will Take To Fix The Repairs

In most cases, if you choose to get the hail damage fixed on your car, your insurance will provide you with an interim rental car. However, if that’s not an option, and you can’t sacrifice your car for a couple of weeks to get repaired, then you might be better off keeping the money. 

I mean, time is money, right? And if going without a car means you can’t commute to work, then getting the damage fixed (as long as the car is safe to drive) doesn’t make any sense. 

7. How Much You Like The Car

The final thing you should consider when deciding between getting hail damage fixed or keeping the insurance money is how much you actually like the car. 

For instance, if you love the way it drives, the safety features, or it’s just been with you through thick and thin, then using the money for repairs might be a great option.

On the contrary, if you never liked the car to begin with, then keeping the money and putting it toward your next vehicle purchase is probably a better option.

Final Thoughts

While everyone’s situation is different, there are a few key things to consider if you can’t decide between fixing the hail damage on your car or keeping the money. Ultimately, you should take your time, weigh out all the options, do the math, and figure out what works best for you.

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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