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When a downpour turns into a hailstorm.

When a downpour turns into a hailstorm.

Hailstorms are natural precipitation events that occur during specific weather conditions. Its occurrence depends on a significant temperature difference, when warm air masses come into contact with much cooler ones. This results in strong winds and ascending currents that draw moisture from the evaporating ground to cool it in the upper atmosphere and form storm clouds. The greater the temperature difference, the greater the pressure difference and the stronger storm front, which is why hailstorms are most common in late spring and summer.


How does rain turn into hail?

Hail is formed in storm clouds of the cumulonimbus type, where water vapour condenses into droplets, which are then carried up to an altitude of 15 - 20 km by ascending currents. At these heights, the temperature drops to between -15 and -40 degrees Celsius. In such conditions, the water droplets momentarily freeze, forming ice crystals called croup. These crystals then sink lower, becoming covered with moisture again, only to be hit again by an upward current that carries them to higher elevations, where they freeze once again. This process is repeated many times, so that more layers of ice are deposited and the hailstone grows in size and mass.

When the hail reaches critical mass and gravity overcomes the force of the wind, the bombardment begins, during which, the speed of the falling balls can reach 100 to 160 km/h. The size of the hail depends on the strength of the wind in the cloud and can range from a few millimetres to several centimetres. Hailstorms with 10 cm hailstones also occur in Poland, causing enormous damage to property, but hailstorms with smaller lumps lasting from a few to several minutes can also break windows, damage roofs and cause many dents in cars.


How do you protect your car from hailstorms?

When hailstorms are approaching, they are usually announced by weather stations and RCB alerts. If we know that hailstorms are approaching, it is a good idea to take care of everything outside in advance, including the car, as we do not know how intense the rainfall will be or how big the hail will be. This is important because securing your car can be useful for possible compensation or reduced repair expenses.

The best solution is to put the car in the garage or at least under some kind of shelter, where it will safely wait out the danger. However, if you are unable to find any shelter, it is worth parking under a large tree, the branches of which will provide at least some protection for the car body, reducing the speed of falling debris and thus the level of damage. It is also a good idea to cover the car with a hail-proof cover or, if you do not have one, a thick cardboard or at least a blanket, or preferably both, so that the force of the impact is somewhat cushioned and spread over a larger area. Care must be taken to ensure that such a makeshift cover is well fixed so that it is not blown away by the wind, especially if it is our only protection. Even such a basic form of protection, can significantly reduce hail damage and subsequent repair costs.


Hailstorm and insurance

Often motorists are reminded of insurance when the damage is already done. Unfortunately, in order to claim compensation for damage caused by nature, it is necessary to have AC (Auto Casco) insurance, which additionally does not have a clause excluding such cases. Even when this is in place, complications can still arise, as insurance companies are reluctant to spend money and attempt to send the customer emptyhanded, if possible.

To purchase an AC policy, the car must not be older than 15 years, but it is common practice to refuse to insure cars that are more than 12 years old. In addition, we may hear from the insurance company that the insured has not used the available means to secure the object of insurance in order to prevent the damage or minimise its effects. Unfortunately, such a claim is in line with Article 826 of the Civil Code, where paragraphs 1,3 and 4 clearly set out the insured's duty to take preventive measures.


Repair of damage

If you have not managed to protect your car or at least minimise the damage, you may be in for a big disappointment, as everything depends on the level of damage and repair costs may exceed the value of the car. The owner of such a damaged vehicle has two options. The first option is to have the dents filled in and then repainted. This solution is very labour-intensive and expensive, and the price of the dent removal service fluctuates between a few and several thousand PLN. In addition, poor workmanship can cause swelling and chipping of the new paint, so it should only be used if the original paint structure is damaged.

If the paintwork is not damaged, a second solution can be used, which is the PDR method, or paintless dent repair. This is a non-invasive method carried out using special tools to pull out and push out dents. Suitable rods of various shapes and lengths are used to push the sheet from the inside, and pullers, that pull out the dents from the outside. In addition to these tools, suitable inertia hammers and Tinner's PDR hammers, with which, with the help of knockdowns, final adjustments are made. In order to clearly see where the dent is and what the straightening effect is, shade lamps and line boards are used. These cast or reflect light onto the paintwork and the displayed patterns show the curvature of the dent, and whether the desired end result has been achieved.

The advantage of this method is its lower price and the fact that the repair can be done yourself. It requires some preparation, dexterity and time, but the end result is amazing. If you don't feel up to the task, you can have it repaired by qualified PDR specialists who will do the job quickly and professionally. The cost of such a repair also depends on the type and number of dents, but also on the reputation and skills of the workshop. The price of repairing a car can vary, but is often around £40-60 per dent, so in the case of 50 dents, the cost should be around £2500. This is considerably less than laying down a new coat of paint, and if you decide to do it yourself, the tool kits are available at an affordable price.

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