Sweet Summertime brings Hailstones in Storms
Summer is so exciting. The sunshine is out, the weather is warm, and those summer rainstorms are so needed and refreshing. As a kid, when those rain storms turned into thunderstorms, I was always mesmerized by the sky. To me, there is nothing better than sitting on a porch during a thunderstorm with some tea (Southern style, dear) and just being with the elements. But now I live in Denver, and those thunderstorms sometimes bring hailstones with them – turning them into a hail storm. As beautiful as a hail storm may be to a kid (the ground looks like snow in the summer!), hail storms for adults tend to bring on stress and anxiety about the unavoidable damage repairs the storm leaves behind.
Good thing I’m in the business of repairing auto hail damage! At Capital Dent Masters we care about our cars, and we know you do too! That’s why we not only care about your vehicle, but also your experience. When something like your car, that you take so much pride in, is damaged, stress and anxiety levels can skyrocket. Deep breath though, because if you have comprehensive insurance, you’re good. And if you’re near Denver, you’re great – you can just call us! Here are two different ways of filing your auto insurance claim for a hail damaged vehicle: DIY, or with a team of specialists (like we have!).
Option 1 – File your auto hail damage claim yourself
I can’t lie – I’m a do it yourself kinda gal. However, filing an insurance claim is not something I would have had full confidence in completing correctly alone. If you prefer to file an auto insurance claim before speaking with the repair shop, more power to you! Here are a few tidbits I’ve picked up along the way working in this industry to help you file your auto insurance claim for your hail damaged vehicle as seamless as possible. I like to be as efficient as possible and sometimes my mind will go blank (especially when I’m stressed), so I’m going to suggest having the following information written down, but if you’re a memory person that works too! Also many companies offer different options to begin filing your claim based on preference – like via phone, application or website. I prefer calling, but either way this information will be gathered from you by your insurance company.
The insurance agent you initially speak with when calling will need you to verify yourself based on their company policy (by name, phone number, address, etc.). The next question is usually which vehicle you are wishing to start the claim for. Next comes the damage question, to which they’ll want a specific date, time and location of the vehicle during the storm. That’s about as straightforward as it gets, and from here the confusion typically begins. Remember that they record these conversations, and if you are unsure about any of the answers, you cannot change them once the claim is filed; this is one huge reason we always recommend working with one of our specialists – they don’t feed you answers, but are there to clarify any missing information needed for the insurance company (including things like matching your “sometime around this day” date and your location to the specific hail storm, or describing the damage with their lingo) and, also, for moral support. The process can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, once you’re no longer on hold, and are speaking to an agent, so have some patience on hand.
Once you have verified your identity and vehicle with the insurance agent, they will begin to ask you questions about the damage to your vehicle – how and where it occurred. This is where your answer matters. The kind of damage suffered would be hail damage, and they will ask you if the vehicle is drive-able or not. Typical hail damage will not render your vehicle undrive-able; if that is the case, there is a good chance your car will be declared totaled by your insurance company.
When they begin asking which parts of your vehicle were damaged, we recommend you say that all of the vehicle was affected. Starting your claim this way often leads to an adjuster visiting your home to appraise the vehicle. Which, let’s be honest, who has the time to find an hours long block in their schedule, then rearrange when the adjuster is late? For more facts on why appraisals should always be done in a setting where the car is washed and under the specialized lights for detecting hail damage, check out our other article on the most common myths people have told me when talking to them about hail damage (here).
Claiming the entire vehicle at the beginning of the process (during the recorded conversation) allows for there to be more damage than what was originally appraised, with less push back from the insurance company. Body shops like ours are able to send what’s called a supplement – basically an additional invoice for the insurance company, saying that there is more damage than the insurance originally claimed. The check an adjuster will write you after seeing your car at your home is typically only about 40% of the total repair costs. A supplement helps us make up the difference (but more on that next week!)
When speaking to the insurance agent, they will also ask you questions about the car’s specific location during the storm. Was it parked somewhere? Was that somewhere your house or another location? Were you driving your vehicle during the storm? Fun fact – it is considered reckless driving to continue driving during a hail storm when there is a safe place for you to pull over. If you did not pull over once the storm began, your insurance company can claim reckless driving, forfeiting your claim for repair costs. Another fun fact – if someone is driving the vehicle who is not on your policy (rented, borrowed, etc.), that is another out for the insurance company and they will not cover the cost of your repairs.
While you are waiting for the adjuster to come to your home, and then to send you the estimate, and then deciding on a body shop, you are driving your vehicle around with previous damage. You can read more in depth about why that could be disastrous in this article. Plus once it is at the body shop, you also have to wait the extra days for the supplement to be approved once again by your insurance company, resulting in a longer repair time. If you’ve already filed your claim, be sure the have the claim number as well as the VIN number readily available for the body shop so they can being the repairs!
Option 2 – Teamwork makes the dream work; file your hail damage claim with a team of trained specialists
Another route you could go is to call your body shop first. Tell them you’ve been caught in a hail storm and your vehicle has hail damage. At Capital Dent Masters, we’ll set up an appointment for you to come by the shop where we can complete all of the above steps within an hour or two. One of our claim specialists will go over your situation with you so that you are confident in your answers with the insurance company, and we will be there to clarify any damage related questions that come up. Our technicians will also complete a full, professional, free(!) evaluation of the auto hail damage – after being hand washed, under specialized lights, and with trained eyes to record the total damage accurately the first time.
Before you leave the shop we can also schedule your next appointment, which will be to drop off your vehicle for repairs. We will coordinate with your insurance company as well, so that you are not without your car for no reason. If you want the entire process to be seamless, leave it in the hands of experts. Everyday we speak with multiple insurance companies and multiple customers – and in our experience the repair process is 1000% less stressful when experts (like my team) are taking care of your repair process (no more middle man for you!).
Capital Dent Masters is an efficient team, who will always put your needs first; ensuring you are not without a rental car when necessary, offering deductible assistance, negotiation and communicating with the insurance company – all to ensure your vehicle is returned to you in the best condition possible.
Your insurance company will often push a list of “preferred” or “suggested” shops. Remember that (by law, even!) you are allowed to have your vehicle repaired wherever you are most comfortable, you do not have to follow their suggestions. This article has been referenced a few times, but here’s the link to last week’s myth busting piece – all the misconceptions I hear from our customers over and over again.
In my personal opinion, I would prefer to have the assistance and back up of a professional when filing a claim about something I’m not well versed in. The efficiency lover in me jumps for joy when a 5 step process can be simplified to one meeting. If you’re in the Denver area and are experiencing auto hail damage, reach out to us – you won’t regret it!