Hail damage season is upon us. As the seasons change from Spring to Summer, it’s important to be aware of the fact hail often comes along for the ride. The midwest part of our country faces severe weather that usually produces 7-9 hail days every year. And with those storms, come hundreds of pop-up paintless dent repair shops, many of which are from out of state. Before you choose a company, review this list of 7 things you should know about repairing your car’s hail damage.
1. Hail season goes from mid-April to mid-August
The states of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska make up America’s “Hail Alley”. These three states have closer freeze levels (the level of atmosphere at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below) than anywhere else resulting in larger, more damaging hail hitting the ground.
2. Insurance companies regularly under-write hail estimates
Your insurance company is a for-profit business. They are aware of the fact that many people claim hail damage to receive a check, but then decide to pocket the cash instead of repairing their car. Because of this, many insurance companies write estimates that are significantly lower than the cost to properly repair the vehicle. They are banking (literally) on the hope that the insured just cashes the check, significantly increasing the insurance company’s profit margin. Even if you decide not to repair your car, it would be wise to make sure that the amount the insurance company gives you is enough to do the right job. If you don’t, you could be leaving as much as 50% of money owed, on their table… not yours.
3. Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) can only go so far
If the hail that dents your vehicle is small and light enough, it’s possible to work the dents out with metal tools. In the hands of a qualified expert, these tools can massage the metal back into shape from underneath.
Sometimes you might receive hail damage that is large and heavy enough to put microscopic cracks in your car’s paint. When this happens, your vehicle is damaged beyond even the ability of the best paintless dent repair expert. The integrity of your car’s paint has been compromised, and if not properly addressed by sanding and repainting, rust and further cracking will take place.
4. Hail damage can total your car
Insurance companies use mathematical formulas to decide whether or not it’s worth it (to them – not you) to repair your car. When the cost of repair is higher than the amount the insurance is willing to pay, they will declare your car “totaled”. At that point, they will offer a settlement equivalent to what they feel your car is worth, and write you a check for that amount. It would be wise to check that settlement offer with a professional body shop to make sure that the insurance company is offering a fair value.
5. Claiming hail damage on your insurance should not raise your rates
In most cases, hail storms are considered an “act of God”, and therefore will not raise your insurance premium rates. This will be covered under the comprehensive area of your policy, not under collision.
6. You should repair hail damage before the next season
Most insurance providers do not put a timeline on how long you have to claim hail damage. Some of them advise you to make the claim within 30-60 days of the actual event. In either case, it’s usually advisable to make your claim sooner rather than later. You should make note of your location and time of day to properly advise your insurance adjuster.
7. You cannot claim the same damage twice
You do not have to repair your vehicle after making a hail damage claim. However, if your car is subjected to damage from a second hail storm, you must be able to prove that there is new damage to the vehicle. In such an event, your insurer is likely to require another deductible and then will reassess the damage, deduct their original payment, and pay the difference. Keep in mind that it’s very likely that they underpaid you the first time, and are likely to do the same on this subsequent claim.