The damage that hailstones can do to parts of automotive lights mainly shows itself in cracked plastic covers. With older vehicles their cover panels made of glass, the so-called diffuser lenses, can be affected. With the mention of glass we now come to the good news: Most damage to headlights and lamps is covered for glass breakage as part of partially comprehensive insurance in Germany. It makes no difference whether the damage is to „real“ glass or to polycarbonate or other plastics. And that, by the way, doesn’t just apply to hail damage.
In most cases the insurance covers the cost for the complete unit, i.e. the headlight or tail light. After all, cover panels can usually not be replaced singly. Despite this though it’s still a good idea to seal holes or cracks in a provisional way. Sometimes the inner parts of headlights can continue to be used in new housings. This is the case for example with the projection modules of lens headlights and the motors for headlamp leveling and cornering light. Control units can also be reused. The so-called sealing is important so that such parts are not rendered useless due to the ingress of water or dirt. Insurance companies call this the „obligation to mitigate damage„, and may possibly reduce their payment sum if this is contravened.
How to seal?
How though do you seal up a hole or a crack? Sticky tape is helpful. Insulating tape is very good because it’s water-tight. Transparent sticky tape is also useful in the short-term. However, on the road you might not have these at hand. But perhaps chewing gum! This works even better than one type of sealant that should be available in any vehicle: An adhesive plaster from the first-aid kit. The latter can comfortably be classified as an emergency solution.
Unusual: Lamp failure only
Another type of damage from hailstones can even be completely repaired with on-board materials, or at least if you have spare lamps in the car. Incandescent lamps sometimes fail due to strong vibrations. Southern Germany experienced severe weather in which this effect occurred several times over. Hailstones the size of golf balls, their speed increased due to gusts of strong wind, impacted with such force that the intensity of the blows caused the filaments in the lamps to break.
Those merely suffering from such damage in hail storms are actually lucky. Lamps can be easily replaced. New lamps also have the added advantage that the corresponding lighting function will remain problem-free for a long period. And especially if our advice is heeded and replacements are carried out in pairs. For example when fresh lamps are fitted into both stop lamps. If this isn’t done the older lamp might possibly fail soon after—even without a hailstorm.