Hailstorms Make An Impact

Warmer weather is here, and this means hailstorms will work their way across the country, leaving dented, dinged, and damaged cars in their wake.

Is your car or truck prepared to face Mother Nature this spring?  Have you got the right insurance to recover from any damages?  And how will you get your vehicle restored to pre-storm condition without putting a dent in your wallet?

Ben’s Auto Body in Mexico, MO has seen and fixed many vehicles damaged by hailstorms. We’d like to provide the following information to help car owners handle hailstorms:

collision repair center auto body headlight restoration hail damage pdrAfter getting hail damage, the very first thing to do is speak to your insurance company before contacting a repair shop.  Most of the time, if there is a really big storm, the insurance companies will call in what’s called a Catastrophe Team.  If you are driving around town and you are getting lots of estimates, unfortunately, it’s going to be a lot of wasted time for you.  The insurance companies are going to want you to go and have their Catastrophe Teams look at it, start the claim process, and then you can take it to Ben's Auto Body or any auto body shop, and they’re going to be able to work with the insurance companies from there to make sure that all the dings and dents get fixed on your car or truck.

Even when you don’t believe the car was damaged too terribly, it is crucial that you get it looked at as soon as possible. There can be a bunch of damage that you cannot see when you are just visually looking at it.  After you get it underneath some lights, and you actually look at it, there are plenty of dents that you won’t see until you potentially go to trade your vehicle in, and then you are going to be stuck with a bunch of hail damage.  The best option is to get a claim processed, and get it to a qualified collision repair center, and have them really look over the automobile carefully.  When you get it inside and underneath the florescent lights, what you thought was only 10 or 15 dents ends up being 50 to 100 dents.

Examine Your Coverage

The time to review your car insurance is not whenever you hear the hail hitting your automobile.  Read your policy now to know what is and isn’t covered, what the deductibles are, if you've got rental coverage and what to do when the storm hits.

Comprehensive coverage safeguards against most damage from disasters.  Two other choices to consider are gap coverage – which pays the difference between what you owe on your loan and exacltly what the car is worth -- and rental reimbursement.

One warning – if you submitted a past damage claim and received a check from your insurer, but didn’t have your vehicle fixed – the insurance company will deduct this amount from your estimate for the storm damage, and bill a second deductible, too.

Protect Your Vehicle

Once you know that a hailstorm is on the way, get your vehicle to higher ground or under cover.  If you do not have a garage at home, find a covered public parking garage to protect your car.  If you have to park the car outside, park it on as high of ground as possible away from trees and telephone poles.

For hail storms, cover your car in an old blanket and a car cover from your local automotive retailer – before the storm hits.  This will provide some protection for your hood, roof, and rear deck-lid. If a storm comes up quickly, try to find an awning at a service station, the drive-through at the bank or self-serve car wash to get below for immediate protection. On the highway, try to find cover beneath a bridge or viaduct.

Get Your Automobile Repaired

Handling the aftermath of a big hail storm can be distressing, especially if you’ve had significant damage to your house, too.  Getting your car back up and running shouldn’t add to your anxiety, if you're prepared for the repairs.  To help with the process, Ben’s Auto Body provides the following tips for those in Mexico, Fulton, Columbia, Centralia, Paris, Martinsburg, and Laddonia, MO:

•   Make copies of the car registration, title, insurance card, and driver’s license before the storm hits and secure in a safe, dry place.

•   After the storm clears, record the damage with photos and video.

•   Have a repair plan in place.  Know where you’d like to get your automobile fixed ahead of time so you do not need to make a fast decision.

When you choose an auto body shop for repairs, don't forget that:

•   Do your research and check out the shop, their reputation, business or trade associations they are members of and if their technicians are I-CAR trained.

•   Only trust your automobile to an established auto body shop business operating before the storm. Watch out for fly-by-night operators trying to make a quick buck off the storm.  If they are set up in a tent or temporary location, do not trust them with your car.

Once your car arrives at the auto body shop for repairs, there are certain things you should keep in mind to make certain you get a quality repair:

•   Study the estimate in detail, but understand that it's for the visible damage and what it's going to take to repair the automobile to pre-accident condition. If the estimate does not cover the full extent of damage, a supplement will be made and sent to your insurance provider for approval.

•   Get a comprehensive description of the parts to be replaced and whether or not they are OEM, new or refurbished, and in what condition the automobile will be returned to you.  Most insurance policies specify pre-accident condition, so your seven-year old minivan may not come back looking brand new.

•   Get an exact timeline of when the work is going to be done and when the job will be completed.

•    Detail the payment terms and methods, including down-payment, final payment, and costs for any follow-up work.

•   Ask the store manager for regular updates on the job, and require approval for any work done outside of the original estimate.

•   Don’t be compelled to accept the completed repair if you do not believe it is repaired properly. Contact your insurance agent for guidance.

While your car is in the auto body shop, it’s a good time to have other dents and dings repaired. It should be more cost-effective and your vehicle will ultimately benefit.

For more tips on dealing with an accident or having your vehicle fixed after a collision, contact Ben’s Auto Body in Mexico, Missouri.