with: Dan Ontrop, Dan O Dents
The local news station has been predicting the potential for severe weather now for a couple of days. Like most people, you turn a blind eye because meteorologists tend to exaggerate and are often inaccurate. Today, unfortunately for you, they were correct with their prediction. Mother nature served up a severe thunderstorm that produced damaging hail. In its path was your vehicle- so now what do you do?
Owners of vehicles are faced with this question every Spring, and most do not know the answer. I will walk you through the steps to make sure your vehicle is brought back to its pre-existing storm condition, through the proper hail damage repair process. If all the steps are followed, you will be amazed at the repair performed by the art of a PDR (paintless dent repair) technician.
So what is PDR? PDR is a unique process by which dents are removed from a vehicle using a highly specialized craftsmanship. Each dent is carefully massaged outwards from the interior of the damaged panel. When technicians are unable to gain access to a the interior side of the panel, a secondary system which uses glue, plastic tabs, and a lifter device is utilized. This technique called “glue pulling” addresses the damage from the exterior of the damaged panel. Both methods ensure that the integrity of the vehicle’s exterior finish is maintained. PDR is an environmentally friendly approach to repairs. The process maintains the original paint, eliminating the use of replacement materials which in turn minimizes waste. Because your car’s original factory paint finish is NOT compromised with PDR, the value is retained. Additionally, the PDR process is faster, allowing you to get back into your vehicle in a fraction of the time needed for conventional repairs. Although PDR is the preferred method of repairs, at times of severe hail damage conventional repairs may still be required.
The first step after your vehicle has received hail damage is to contact your insurance agent / provider. Let them know the time and location the damage occurred. Your insurance provider will then start the claim process. He or she will try to answer any questions you have. Remember that the insurance agent you are speaking with my not have all the answers to your questions. This may also be his / her first time dealing with local hail damage. The day after a catastrophic hail storm is very hectic for an insurance agency / provider. Try to be patient.
After the claim process is started, the insurance provider will do one of two things: advise you to have your vehicle inspected at a local collision center; or for customers who are insured with a nationwide carrier, have an adjuster contact you. They will then set up an appointment to assess the hail damage on your vehicle. The adjuster will likely meet you where it is most convenient. Some hail storms are categorized as a catastrophic situation, which means a certain region has received extensive amounts of damage. If you are in a catastrophic situation, the insurance company may set up a “CAT” drive. In this event they will give you an appointment in which you bring your vehicle to them for inspection. Be aware that in most cases your vehicle will not be assessed the appropriate amount of damage. Insurance companies know that over 50% of hail damaged vehicles are never repaired, and therefore intentionally underwrite damage. Also, many times vehicles are inspected outside without proper lighting which leads to unintentional underwritten damage. However there is no need to worry if damage is not correctly assessed at the time of inspection.
A supplement will be submitted to your insurance provider during the repair process. This is common practice and many times the insurance company is expecting a supplement. The insurance adjuster may even inform you at the time of the inspection that a supplement may be needed during the repair. Either way, you will receive a written estimate that has been submitted to or assessed by the insurance provider.