Honest Information About
Automotive Hail Damage Repair
If your vehicle has been damaged by a hailstorm, there are several questions that probably come to mind.
- How do I file a claim?
- Does my policy cover this type of damage?
- Will this claim raise my rates?
- Where can I get my vehicle repaired?
- Do I have a choice as to who will repair my vehicle?
- What repair options are available to me?
These questions are legitimate, and we will walk you through what you can expect from this process. It is important to know what your rights are as the insured, and to know what to expect when you file your claim.
Hail damage is classified as a comprehensive claim, not a collision claim. If you have comprehensive coverage, you are covered. Whatever deductible level you have chosen on your policy for comprehensive coverage is the amount of the claim you will have to pay out of pocket. Your insurer pays the rest of the claim amount.
Generally speaking, hail damage is considered an act of God by most insurance companies, and does not affect your future rates. However, if your vehicle gets hail-damaged repeatedly, these claims may affect your premiums later. Ask your insurance company for their policies regarding this.
The Hail Claim Process
After the damage has occurred to your vehicle, you will need to contact your insurance company in a timely manner.
After you have filed your claim, the insurance company will arrange to look at your car. It is important to have your vehicle looked at inside, or in a shaded area, if possible. Estimating a vehicle outside is a very inaccurate way to assess hail damage, as many of the dents will not be seen due to the glare of the sun.
Your adjustor may ask you where you are taking your vehicle to get repaired, or if your vehicle has a lien against it from a financial institution. If you own your vehicle free and clear, you have the right to keep your claim settlement, or to have your damage repaired. This is your choice.
Do not tell the adjustor you intend to cash out on the claim and keep the money. Some adjustors are trained to deliberately write a light estimate if you are cashing out. This is illegal. You will have no way of knowing if this has happened to you since you are not getting your vehicle repaired.
It is estimated that between 50 to 70% of hail damage claims are not repaired. The insurance companies take advantage of this knowledge. This saves them from having to pay the actual damage cost to the vehicle, and can save them hundreds of millions of dollars yearly. If it is economically feasible to your situation and vehicle’s worth, it is best to have the repairs done. This will help ensure a fair settlement.
When your adjustor looks at the severity of your hail damage, they will write the estimate to be repaired one of two ways, or a combination on the two. The Paintless Dent Removal method [PDR] involves a skilled technician gently massaging your dents out from the underside of the body panel. The traditional body shop method requires that the dents are straightened, filled, and the body panels repainted. Sometimes the damage is so severe that the panels will need to be replaced.
If possible, the paintless method is recommended so that your original factory finish can be preserved. PDR repairs generally take 1-2 days to complete. Traditional repairs usually take 1-2 weeks.
If you choose to have your vehicle repaired, notify the insurance company as to the body shop you are going to use for the repairs. Some body shops will want to see your vehicle before they schedule in your repair; they want to ensure the insurance estimate was written accurately. Other body shops will deal with this issue after you have left your vehicle with them to begin the repair. The body shop will notify the insurance company if they feel the estimate is written for the wrong type of repair or written light. You do not have to get involved with this process in most cases. The body shop will re-write the estimate or create a supplement for the insurance company to approve.
Most body shops are now familiar with PDR. Some will have their own technicians on staff, but most will rely on subcontractors to complete the repairs. You can ask to see references from these subcontractors if you wish.
After your vehicle is repaired, you will pay your applicable deductible and pick up your vehicle. It is important that you inspect your vehicle thoroughly to see if the repairs were completed to your satisfaction. Ask to receive your written warranty.
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