Along with picnics, vacations and reading long novels, summer also means devastating storms like those that recently ripped through Wyoming, Colorado and Oklahoma. The damage done by tornado-force winds gets plenty of press, but the hail stones that accompany these storms cause millions of dollars of property damage each year. Cars are among the hardest hit when big hail stones rain down. Here’s what you need to know to minimize damage and repair the dents.
Hail is not covered by your basic car insurance policy. It is considered a comprehensive claim. Because hail damage falls under the Act of God category, filing a single claim shouldn’t affect your premiums. Filing repeatedly claims might, however.
There’s not much you can do to avoid hail damage if your caught on the road in the middle of a storm. Your best bet is to try to seek shelter under an overpass or head into a covered parking structure. If you’re at home when a storm threatens, pull into your car port or garage and stay off the road until the storm has passed.
If your car is damaged, write down the date and time when the damage occurred. This will come in handy later if there are any disputes about the cause of the dents. Next, contact your insurance company to get the claim process started promptly.
When the adjuster comes to inspect the damage, have your car parked in the shade or inside a garage. Bright sunlight can obscure dents resulting in an inaccurate assessment of the damage.
On average, every dent is going to cost between $50 and $125 to repair. There will also probably be scratch damage to surrounding surfaces that will have to be repainted. Depending on the severity of damage, your hail repair bill could run from $1,500 to over $10,000. The amount of your deductible, the value of your car and its ownership status will determine whether you want to pursue a claim and, if you do, whether you want to pocket the payout or get the repair work done.
The adjuster will write the repair estimate for the Paintless Dent Removal method (PDR), the traditional method or a combination of the two. The PDR method is reputed to do a better job of preserving your
original factory finish and can be completed in a couple of days. The traditional method of pounding out, filing and repainting can take up to two weeks.
You have the right to obtain your own estimates and to use the repair shop of your choice. So once your insurance company has written up an estimate, take it to your preferred shop to see if it adequate. If there’s
a discrepancy, your repair shop can deal directly with your insurer to obtain a re-written estimate or to create a supplement for your insurance company to approve.