Auto and Roof Hail Damage and Insurance Claims
If you have full coverage insurance on your home and auto, hail damage doesn’t have to be a frustrating or expensive ordeal. Sometimes, people don’t understand how to properly utilize their homeowners and auto insurance coverage and are sometimes afraid to make a claim for fear their rates rise.
This is a common fear, but a comprehensive claim such as auto hail damage does not cause your rates to rise. In fact, if you don’t claim the hail damage and elect to not have it repaired, you risk having any future claims denial because of unrelated pre-existing damage.
First, file a claim with your insurance company. Make sure you write your claim number down and it is always a good idea to note the names of everyone you talk to and that of the adjuster assigned to your claim. The next step is the initial inspection or the “estimate.” Some insurance companies will ask you to get three estimates for auto claims. If your insurance company asks you to jump through these hoops just politely say NO. Ask where you need to go to have their adjuster write his or her estimate. That’s it. You are not required to get multiple estimates.
An estimate means just that. It is an estimate of how much money the insurance company thinks it will take to repair your car or roof. For autos, it is very important that you clean your car before having it inspected. You won’t get paid for dents the adjuster can’t see. Second, it is extremely important that you are as nice and as accommodating to the adjuster as you can be. Arguing with the adjuster is counter-productive.
Often, when there’s a large storm, insurance companies are overloaded with claims and they have to outsource to independent adjusting services to help write all the claims. This is commonly referred to as a catastrophe team or “cat team.” These very busy adjusters are going to fly through your estimate as fast as they can and will probably miss important damage. You may think your estimate looks a little low. I believe as many as 90 percent are too low. I’ve seen estimates for $1500 on a car with more than $6000 in damage. Your estimate is not the final word; it is a starting point.
Unfortunately, many people choose to keep their insurance money and never make the repairs. Some people even wait until it hails again nearby and try to claim the un-repaired damage again. The insurance companies lose millions of dollars every year to fraudulent claims. It is impossible for them to keep track of every claim and they can’t force you to get your car repaired. The only way the insurance companies can combat this is by writing their initial estimates lower. I’ve had many adjusters tell me their company actually trains them to lower estimates for people they feel won’t repair their car. Obviously if you have a brand new BMW you’re going to repair it. But your 1984 Toyota Corolla with 350,000 miles may not be worth the repairs.
Well, the world is not perfect and depending on your insurance company’s original estimate it may take several days to get an adjuster to come back out and re-write an estimate. This process is known as a Supplement. Usually on the back page of your estimate there are instruction for completing a supplement. The insurance company knows a professional repair facility is going to catch all the dents and ask to be paid for every repair. This is standard procedure and most insurers actually have a supplement hot line body shops call to have an adjuster sent to the shop.
Some insurance companies send an adjuster right away while other companies can take 7-10 days. Some of the other companies won’t tell you when they are coming and you’re at their mercy. This is usually the longest delay in the repair process but it is the most important. We often get twice as much money as the original estimate. This is very important because without this additional money you may get a shop to do an incomplete repair or worse, you may have to pay money out of pocket.
The next issue is “deductibles.” You have a contract with your insurance company that you will pay the first $500, $1000, or whatever your deductible is, toward the repair. This money is always deducted from the check your insurance company gives you and they leave it up to you to pay it or find a company willing to repair it for less.
Essentially any company repairing your vehicle without requiring you to pay a deductible is giving you a “discount.” This is completely legal and in fact most PDR companies will not require you to pay your insurance deductible. Make sure you get any promises in writing. I also suggest you get an estimated length of repair time.
At Tex’s Storms we always provide a customer with a written quote of the exact amount due for the repair or we give the customer a guarantee in writing that we will complete the repair for the negotiated amount the insurance company issues. If we file a supplement, it is expressed that we earned the money in addition to the original estimate. It is very important you have written proof that you, as the customer, will not have to pay more than the agreed upon amount when your car repair is completed.