Hail damage can be a huge headache for anyone who owns property, but don’t forget about your boat as you survey your losses after a storm. According to data from State Farm, the second most common cause of boat insurance claims is damage from wind and hail, but you need to remember that you may only have a limited time to submit a claim if your hail insurance policy extends to your boat. For boaters who don’t get out on the water very often, or when a watercraft has already been stored for the season, it can be very easy to forget to check for damage—but, ultimately, it can be a very costly mistake to make.
Why You Shouldn’t Forget About Your Boat After Severe Hail
As you’re checking your house, roof, garage, and car for hail damage, don’t forget to also take a look at your boat. Whether you keep it at home or at a marina, you will need to know as soon as possible if you suffered damage, because…
- Time limits may apply to your insurance claim. If you don’t discover the damage until weeks later or next season, it may be too late for you to submit a claim through your insurance company. Even if you do discover the damage before the time limits have run out, you may still have difficulty with the insurance claim because you waited so long to report your losses.
- Damage can get worse over time. The longer your boat sits with unknown damage, the worse that damage can be when you do find it. A small leak or crack can cause thousands of dollars of deeper damage if left unchecked. Even if you have insurance coverage for hail losses, the insurance company is very unlikely to cover damage that happened because you didn’t check for problems or perform regular maintenance.
- It can be difficult to narrow down the cause. Unfortunately, if you don’t look for damage after each storm that affects your area, it can be extremely difficult to say for sure that the damage you found later was definitely caused by any one storm. If there have been storms or other issues in the time in between, it can deeply complicate your claim and make it hard to get those losses covered.
What to Look for After a Hail-Producing Storm Affects a Boat
Many boats survive mild or even moderate hail storms without problems, but severe or persistent hail can cause extreme damage or even a “total loss.” It is your responsibility to carefully check over everything for potential damage after a storm produces hail of any kind. As you go, you should keep an eye open for typical hail damages, such as:
- Dents and nicks
- Broken windows
- Cracks and tears
- Damage to electronics and equipment, especially if the hail was accompanied by lightning strikes
- Leaky seams and seals
- Damage to canvas and upholstery
- Damage from collisions with other craft, docks, and debris
Take photographs or video footage of the damage, if possible, and make sure that you contact your insurance company to report that your boat suffered damage in the storm. You may also want to call in a professional to look at your damages, or even seek several opinions if your damage was severe. Remember not to make any repairs until the insurance adjuster has seen the damage or given you the okay to move ahead. For more help understanding what to document and how to approach the claims process, we recommend that you read through a free copy of our book, Top 10 Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make When Filing Your Insurance Claim.
Each boater’s insurance coverage is unique, and there may be coverage for hail losses under a marine policy, auto policy, or even under homeowners insurance. If you have questions about a denied hail claim or a dispute with the insurance company, we encourage you to reach out to the Voss Law Firm at 1-888-614-7730 to discuss your rights in more detail.