Frequently Asked Questions About
Hail Damage Dent Repairs
Just because this is your first time dealing with hail damage doesn't mean it's every ones first time. Let your insurance company do what you pay them all that money for. Call your agent!
You car was damaged by hail. What to do?
Before anything else, contact your insurance company and file a claim. Your agent will then direct you to the adjuster who will make an assessment of the damage.
So you setup a meeting with the adjuster. What happens next?
The adjuster will inspect the car and will provide an estimate for the damages. This estimate is just that an estimate, and may not be accurate. Once you have your car repaired, the difference, if any between the invoice and the estimate will be handled between the repair facility and your insurance agency. This is called a supplement
Preferred Repair Providers
The insurance adjuster may encourage you to take your car to one of their preferred repair providers. It's your car it's your choice. Did you know it's illegal for an insurance company to require you to have your car repaired by any specific shop or person? And it's not completely uncommon for the preferred vendors to have representatives at insurance company claim centers. Do not let these tactics pressure you into using these vendors. You decide who and where.
Most insurers today use what are called Preferred Repair Providers. These are shops not owned by the insurance company, but shops that agreed to provide service to these insurers. What does this mean for the vehicle owner? The insurance provider may say it means faster turn-around on your damaged vehicle. In some cases this may be true. In most cases it is not.
What exactly is the agreement between the insurance company and the repair provider? When a provider signs a Preferred Repair Provider agreement it turns it's managerial rights over to the insurer. How you ask? These agreements are drawn up by the insurance company to protect themselves from fraud, and the rising cost of repairs. These agreements instruct a shop in how to write estimates, how to report claims, which parts to use, how much to charge, what not to charge for and a host of other things. Basically the agreement ties the hands of the repair shop that tries to repair a vehicle back to it's original pre-accident condition.
For instance. To save money on a claim, the insurer will tell the Preferred Repair Provider to use aftermarket parts. Aftermarket parts are parts made to fit certain years, makes and models of vehicles, but they are not made by the original manufacturer. Most parts come from overseas and have been proven to not be Like, Kind and Quality. State Farm Insurance lost a major lawsuit in the early 90's over the usage of these parts and following the settlement stopped using aftermarket parts.
Aftermarket parts are not of the same quality of OEM, Original Equipment manufacturer. Aftermarket parts do not fit as well as OEM. Some aftermarket parts can and do carry a certification, CAPA, but CAPA parts have not proven to be the same as OEM parts.
What does this mean for the you the vehicle owner? It means, if aftermarket parts are used on your vehicle, they may not fit the same, may not be as safe as OEM and certainly are not the same quality as OEM parts.
Some insurers may say anything to get you into their preferred shop. We say, if you are happy with that shop, then by all means, let that shop do the repairs on your vehicle. Don't go there just because an insurance company says that's where you have to go, or that's where you need to go, or that's where you must go or we will not guarantee the work.
Most states give the vehicle owner right to choose their repair facility. By researching your local shops and getting quotes and standing up to your insurance company for your rights, you become an educated consumer. Visit the potential repair shops. Make sure they are clean and organized. Get an estimate, make sure the estimator goes over the estimate and explains the repair process to you. Make sure you feel comfortable with the shop you choose. Most importantly, YOU choose the repair shop, do not be "steered" to a shop that does not have your best interest in mind. If they have signed an agreement with an insurer, I guarantee you, they do not work for you, they work for them.
They issued you a check, now what?
Most insurance companies will issue you a check after they have estimated the damages to your vehicle. Don't be surprised when the check amount of the estimate is substantially less than the actual cost of repairs when repaired by a reputable facility not on the insurance companies’ preferred list. It has been said that this is a tactic of insurance companies to minimize the overall cost of claims. If you do not get the repairs done to your vehicle and you cash the check, you are, in effect, settling the claim for the amount of the estimate, when the actual amount could, and probably would of been, substantially higher.
While it could be tempting to just cash the check and skip having your car repaired, there are several consequences to consider before doing this. One consequence could be that in the event of a claim sometime in the future the insurance company may and probably will reduce the amount paid on that claim by the amount previously paid for hail damage not repaired. Also, if the claim amount is not applied to any liens against the vehicle, then the vehicle value would not be sufficient to satisfy the lien in the event the vehicle is sold, traded or totaled.