Getting the most from your auto hail claim

Watching as your car gets pummelled by hailstones is devastating. Especially if you live in Colorado Springs, CO. In 2018, Colorado Springs was targeted twice by record-breaking hail storms. These are the kind of storms that not only total vehicles, but they can also cause bodily harm to both humans and animals.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo saw their beloved animals being injured and perishing from the sheer force of impact these baseball & softball sized hail stones delivered. In total, 14 guests were injured, 2 birds were killed, and 100’s of vehicles were destroyed by hail damage.

In this article, we will cover how you can get the most out of your hail claims in 2019 and unrepaired hail damage from 2018.

Topics include: Understanding options for a totaled car, how long after a hail storm you can file a claim, “backlogged” auto body shops, insurance rates after a hail damage claim, tips for filing a hail claim, panel replacement vs panel repair, insurance company “steering”, can you claim hail damage twice, keeping the insurance money vs getting repairs, and more.

Understanding options for a totaled car

Keeping a hail totaled car.

If your vehicle has been declared as totaled and you choose to keep driving it, you should tell your insurance company that you want to buy the car at its salvage value. For example, if your vehicle was Kelly Blue Book valued for $18,000 before the hail damage and your insurance company makes the salvage value at $8,000 – you will get a check for the difference.

In Colorado, you will need to get the vehicle inspected before it is allowed back on the road. With this option, the car’s title will reflect that it was declared as a”total loss.” More than likely, you won’t be able to get comprehensive coverage due to the condition but you can still get liability. Ask your insurance company.

If you decide not to keep a hail totaled car.

If you decide that you would rather just be rid of the vehicle, your insurance company will take possession of the car. They will write you a check for the current value of the vehicle. Remember, insurance companies are low-ballers and will always offer you less than maybe they should. If you believe you should get back more money, find a way to prove the value.

Look online or at car dealerships for the same vehicle. If you find that you are being low-balled by say $2000, tell your insurance company that your car is worth more and show them your proof.

How long after a hail storm you can file a claim?

As it is always best to file your auto hail damage claim ASAP, most insurance companies allow hail claim filings up to 12 months after the damage occurred.

I read a news article that said Colorado Springs auto body shops are backlogged for months for auto hail repair. What do I do about getting my auto hail damage repaired?

Auto Hail Zone in Colorado Springs has immediate openings for auto hail repair. It can be frustrating when media outlets claim that every auto body shop and paintless dent repair shop have a ” backlog of hundreds of vehicles”. Many are not. You do NOT have to use the shop that your insurance company says is on the “preferred vendor list.”

When insurance companies “steer” their clients to one or two shops, of course, they will be overbooked. You have the right to whomever you choose. This is not saying you shouldn’t be choosy. Do your research, look at reviews, and stop by the shop.

Finally, this article keeps mentioning “auto body shops.” Paintless dent repair is the preferred method for auto hail repair. It is less expensive and saves the vehicles original paint warranty. Panels aren’t replaced, they are repaired back to their pre-damaged state. The dents will NOT return.

We warranty all work done in our shop as well as most of the other Colorado Springs paintless dent repair shops. Auto body shops and car dealerships often subcontract their hail damaged vehicles to a local paintless dent repair shop and up the cost. OR they will hire PDR techs on the cheap to come in and assist with hail repair in a catastrophic event. Skip the middleman and go straight to the source!

Will my insurance rates increase after a hail damage claim in Colorado Springs?

Overall, Colorado Springs insurance rates had been on a slow but steady rise between the years of 2011 and 2017. 52% increase for vehicle owners to be precise and this has been happening way before the 2 of the most devastating hailstorms hit Colorado Springs in 2018.

So theoretically, yes but it isn’t yours alone. The increase won’t cause “sticker shock” but there is the possibility of a slight increase.

Tips for filing a hail claim

1. Get an inspection from a local & reputable paintless dent repair shop before or after the insurance adjuster conducts their inspection. In 99.9% of all insurance estimates we see, we will find additional hail damage that was not accounted for. ALL of your auto hail damage should be repaired, not 60% to save on cost for your insurance provider.

2. If one of your vehicles has hail damage, get all of your personal property inspected for hail damage. This includes your roof, your siding, and any other vehicles. Even if you can’t see any dents or dings, that doesn’t mean they are not there. Auto Hail Zone uses special lighting equipment that allows us to locate and identify all hail damage.

3. Take note of whether the adjuster inspects every panel of your vehicle, this includes the car roof, all door panels, hood, and bumpers.  How much time was spent conducting their inspection? A good vehicle inspection for hail damage should take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Unfortunately, insurance companies count on profiting off of their insureds that do not know how to navigate the politics of the insurance claims process.

Panel replacement vs panel repair

Generally, most hail damage is repaired using paintless dent repair. Every hail dent and ding is evaluated and the decision to use paintless dent repair or completely replacing a panel of a car is always made in favor of preserving the integrity of the car.  There are a few instances when paintless dent repair cannot be used. One, the dent is on a crease. Two, the dent can’t be on a line. Three, a single panel has too many small dents.

Always get a second opinion from a reputable Colorado paintless dent repair shop. At Auto Hail Zone, it won’t cost you a dime. All of our inspections are complimentary. In most cases, we can even help with your deductible.

The best option is ALWAYS to retain the vehicles integrity and stay AWAY from panel replacement. Paint matching can be a challenge due to paint fading over the years. Repainting is also harsh on the environment.

Do I have to take my hail damaged car to the auto body shop or PDR shop my insurance company suggests?

No.

We received a phone call from a car owner with GEICO insurance. GEICO wanted her to take her car straight to one of their approved body shops, but since she couldn’t afford the $500 deductible, she decided to put the claim on hold. If you take your vehicle to one of the insurance companies “approved body shops,” you have to pay your deductible. As this might not be a concern of yours, it is for others. For one, a paintless dent repair shop is where you should get hail damage repaired, not an auto body shop. Next, these “approved body shops” are getting these referrals from insurance companies at a cost. They have to agree to cheaper labor and/or discounted rates for the insurance company. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” Auto Hail Zone is more concerned about providing the very best repairs over volume. Additionally, if you carry comprehensive insurance coverage on your vehicle, your insurance company pays for the repairs no matter WHERE you take your vehicle! Don’t let them fool you. Finally, because shops like Auto Hail Zone are not under the thumb of insurance companies, we can choose to waive deductibles.