Hail season is upon us and I hear its going to be bigger than ever. But are your prepared? Being in business for over 20 years, we have learned a few things that we thought you should take into consideration when living in a “Hail State”. It just may save you some frustration in trying to understand the “ins & outs” of the world of Insurance while making sure you have the coverage you need to get you back on the road.
- Comprehensive Coverage. Having Comprehensive Coverage on your vehicles ensures that any damages sustained in a weather related storm will be covered. Filing a claim WILL NOT raise your deductible. Why? Because it was an act of weather and is a “not at fault” accident. This is written in your policy.
- Lower your Deductible. To save money on yearly premiums, people will increase the amount of their deductible. However, they forget to lower it back to a reasonable amount BEFORE hail season (usually April through October here in Colorado) . Lowering your deductible before hail season will save you hundreds of “out of pocket” dollars should your car sustain any damages. But for general purposes, you may not want to tell them why your lowering it.
- Rental Car Coverage. If you don’t have a spare vehicle to drive while your car is in the shop for repairs, make sure you add rental car coverage to your policy. Most insurance companies will cover you for an economy car. If you prefer an upgrade or would need a larger vehicle, make sure you mention it to your provider so that they can add that to your policy.
- OEM Parts Coverage (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Some insurance companies & some policies will only replace damaged parts with aftermarket or refurbished parts. This will save your insurance company money but will not offer you any manufacturer warranties that come along with OEM parts. So verify with your provider what your covered for. Also, if you have a clear protectant film on your vehicle, make sure they will cover that if damaged in a storm. Every Insurance company is different and could cost you a couple hundred dollars out of pocket to get replaced.
- Insurance Steering. By Law, you can take your vehicle in for repair to which ever body shop YOU choose. Some insurance companies almost insist on you taking it to their “Preferred Repair Facility” or “Direct Repair” under the disguise of offering lifetime warranties on the repair. First, any reputable auto body shop will offer a warranty on their repairs. They’d be stupid not to. Secondly, Preferred Repair Facilities are under contract with your insurance provider. Which means, they have agreed to perform regulated repairs. Some say body shops have to cut corners to get the repair done, in a particular time frame, using (often times) aftermarket parts. In turn, the insurance company will feed the body shop referrals and work steered towards them. Also, if you take your car to a Preferred Repair Facility, YOU HAVE TO PAY YOUR DEDUCTIBLE. That is a part of the agreement they have with your carrier. Whereas non-contracted shops can offer deductible assistance or choose to offer “No Deductibles”.
- Don’t wait to get your auto hail damage fixed. If you wait too long and it gets hit again with hail, the damage may become so severe, it cannot be fixed. Insurance companies will only pay up wholesale replacement value of the car. Severe damage may total your vehicle. Often times, this leads policy holders without enough money to pay off their existing loan or enough money to purchase a replacement vehicle.
- DONT CASH OUT! If you accept the insurance money and “cash out” and get hit with hail again, they will not cover subsequent damage if you didn’t fix your car last time. Then you’re really left with a mess of a car.
- Never, EVER Take an Appearance Allowance . This is another way insurance companies save money. They will offer you what is called an “appearance allowance”. Basically, they will give you money for not having to pay to replace parts of your vehicle (like moldings or wing windows). They will present it as a way for you to save money “off your deductible”. Which is great if you can’t afford your deductible. But, the money they offer you is always less than the cost of the replacement part itself. Even an aftermarket replacement part not to mention the labor to have the part replaced. Anything pertaining to windows is often a skilled tradesmen to have part replaced.
- DONT EVER TURN IN A LEASED VEHICLE WITH HAIL DAMAGE. If you didn’t take the time to protect their investment while you leased their vehicle, why wouldn’t they come after you in some way to recoup the cost of the repair? You ding them, they’ll ding you.
- STAY LOCAL. While there is nothing wrong with most of these “pop up” shops that come in right after a storm, they are hard pressed to provide repair warranties if they are not local. Not to mention, local body shops really appreciate your business and keeps our economy strong. Building a relationship with a reputable body shop will give you a sense of peace if you’re so unfortunate enough to be struck again. And, there’s nothing better than loyalty discounts.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns please contact us. We’d love to hear from you and could create a reason for additional info to be posted here.