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May 1, 2018

OH HAIL! Dings and Dents Bloom with Spring Storms

How to Repair a Damaged Vehicle after Hail Storm

Warmer weather is here, and that means hail storms are working their way across the country, leaving dented, dinged and damaged vehicles in their wake.

Does your vehicle have more dimples than a golf ball?  Do you have a plan for getting your vehicle restored to pre-storm condition without putting a dent in your wallet?

CARSTAR, North America’s largest network of collision centers with nearly 600 stores in 33 states and 10 Canadian provinces, delivers a repaired vehicle every :30 seconds.  During spring storms, it sees hundreds of cars damaged by hail. Dean Fisher, Chief Operating Officer of CARSTAR, offers the following advice to help car owners deal with the spring and summer hail storms.

“A hail storm can pop up with little warning and do tremendous damage to an unprotected car,” said Fisher.  “If you hear a storm warning, get your car to your garage, a parking structure even under a bridge to protect it.  This can minimize the damage and repair costs.”

Get Your Car Repaired without Despair

Dealing with the aftermath of a big hail storm can be traumatic, particularly if you’ve had significant damage to your home, too.  Getting your car back up and running shouldn’t add to your stress, if you are prepared for the repairs.  To help with the process, CARSTAR suggests:

• Make copies of your vehicle 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.  Sketch what happened, including street names, road signs and details on the storm’s impact.
• Identify any witnesses.  Look for neighbors or area residents who may have seen what happened. Get their names, addresses, phone numbers and their recollection of the storm damage.
• Have a repair plan in place.  Know where you’d like to have your car repaired ahead of time so you don’t have to make a sudden decision.  CARSTAR offers high-quality, reliable repair service in 33 states and 10 Canadian provinces.  Just call 1-800-CARSTAR when you need a repair and they can send a tow truck, contact your insurance company, arrange for a rental car and repair your vehicle.

When you choose a body shop for repairs, remember:

• Do your homework and check out the shop, their reputation, the business or trade associations they belong to and if their technicians are I-CAR trained.
• All reputable repair facilities will offer a warranty of some sort for the work that they complete…make sure it is in writing and well explained to you.
• Only trust your vehicle to an established body shop business operating prior to the storm. Beware of fly-by-night operators when there are weather events like hail storms or tornadoes and avoid those that don’t have a history of operating in the community.

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

• Review the estimate in detail, but remember that it is for the visible damage and what it will take to repair the vehicle to pre-accident condition. If the estimate does not cover the full extent of damage, a Supplement will be created, submitted to your or the other person’s insurance company for approval.
• Get a detailed description of the parts to be replaced and whether they are OEM, new or refurbished, and in what condition the car will be returned to you.  Most insurance policies specify pre-accident condition, so your seven-year old minivan might not come back looking brand new.
• Get an exact timeline of when the work will be done and when the job will be completed.
• Detail the payment terms and methods, including downpayment, 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 the original estimate.
• Don’t be pressured to accept the completed repair if you don’t think it is repaired correctly.  Contact your insurance agent for guidance.

CARSTAR offers options on how to repair hail damage on your vehicle.

• Paintless Dent Repair – Smaller dents can be repaired with this procedure. The size and location of the damage will determine if this technique can be used on your car.  You can expect around a two to three day repair.  Check with your repair shop to see if this service is available and appropriate for your damage.
• Conventional Repair – If the hail damage is to the extent that the paint is chipped or scratched, the amount of dents are too numerous, or if the metal has been stretched, then a conventional repair process will have to be used.  This could involve sanding down and straightening the damaged area, or even replacing body panels including the roof, doors, hood, trunk, and fenders.  Once repairs are complete, those sections of the car will have to be repainted.  A conventional repair could take anywhere from a week to a month depending on the amount of damage.

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

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