Each year automobile owners in the U.S. file more than 600,000 hail related insurance claims, adding up to over $2.5 billion in total damages. While most people never think about hail damaging their vehicle until after it has happened,
Each year automobile owners in the U.S. file more than 600,000 hail related insurance claims, adding up to over $2.5 billion in total damages. While most people never think about hail damaging their vehicle until after it has happened, for insurance companies hail accounts for around 40% of annual claim exposure.* As you might expect after hearing these statistics, what was once a very niche market for hail repairs has grown into its own subsection of the economy over the past decade. While there's no doubt consumers benefit from increased competition, as with any service industry, less than reputable players do turn up from time to time. One thing to keep in mind is that, with a few exceptions, it typically does not hail in the same places on a regular basis, meaning it is practically impossible for the technicians and skilled tradesmen who do these types of repairs to work out of a permanent location. Put simply, most vendors travel around, following the storms and performing their work where it is needed, which can be a turn off to people with an aversion to working with someone from out of town. The majority of hail repair companies are small, independently owned businesses operated by people who take great pride in what they do, unfortunately there are also vendors who are only interested in making a fast buck, usually at the expense of their customers. The Catastrophe Response Team at Dealer's Hail & Specialty has put together these 6 tips below that will help to insure your hail repair experience is a pleasant one.
1. Call your insurance company and inform them of the damage, this begins the claims process. Make sure to notate the claim number you're given.
2. Your insurance company will schedule a time for an adjuster to inspect your vehicle or will direct you to get an estimate from a repair shop of your choice.
3. Do some research before selecting a repair company and handing over your keys. A simple Google search is usually enough to show you who is well reviewed by previous customers and who is not.
4. Once the adjuster has inspected your vehicle, you should be free to schedule repairs with the repair facility of your choosing. Most reputable shops will be very busy after a hail storm so schedule as soon as possible for the shortest turnaround time.
5. Beware of any "preferred vendors" recommended by your insurer. These shops give big discounts to the insurance company in exchange for referrals and, as you might expect, generally perform subpar work.
6. Inspect your vehicle thoroughly once the repairs are completed. Make sure to get copies of the repair invoice, the final insurance company estimate as well as written proof of any warranties.
*Verisk Claim Services
For more answers to common hail repair and insurance claim questions please see our FAQ's.
Joey Cook is a PDR and hail repair industry consultant and one of the founders of Dealer's Hail & Specialty, a firm specializing in fleet hail repair solutions.