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September 11, 2018

Protect Your Vehicle From Hurricane Florence Storm Damage

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With a major hurricane bearing down on the East Coast, homeowners are battening down the hatches to protect their homes from damage.  But what about their second largest investment – their cars?  Hurricanes, tropical storms and the resulting floods leave thousands of damaged and totaled vehicles in their wake.  But a few simple precautions can help reduce the damage.

CARSTAR, North America’s largest network of collision centers with more than 600 stores in 35 states and 10 Canadian provinces, delivers a repaired vehicle every :30 seconds.  Following major storms, it sees hundreds of cars damaged by hail, flying debris and flooding.   Dean Fisher, Chief Operating Officer of CARSTAR, offers the following advice to help car owners prevent damage – and repair their vehicles after the storm.

“The high winds, flood waters and debris from a hurricane can do tremendous damage to an unprotected car,” said Fisher.  “Heed the storm warnings and get your car to your garage, a parking structure or at least higher ground to protect it.  This can minimize the damage and repair costs.”

Get Your Car Under Safe Cover

If you’re evacuating your city, you may have to leave a vehicle behind.  These steps can help reduce damage to it and make it easier to have it repaired afterward:

• Make copies of your vehicle registration, title, insurance card and driver’s license before the storm hits and secure in a safe, dry place
• Remove valuables like electronics, sports equipment and other items from the vehicle
• Take photos of the vehicle for any insurance claims after the storm
• Find a secure parking garage and park on an upper level, if possible, to protect it
• If you must leave it at home, park in the garage and consider that flooding could occur
• If a garage isn’t available, park close to a large building on higher ground to protect from wind and debris

Get Your Car Repaired without Despair

Dealing with the aftermath of a big 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:

• After the storm clears, record the damage with photos and video, including street names, road signs and details on the storm’s impact
• 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 35 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
• If your vehicle has been flooded, don’t attempt to drive it as the water can damage the electronics, engine, fuel system and other critical components – contact a repair professional for assistance

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 certified by industry organizations like I-CAR and the vehicle manufacturers (OEMs). You can frequently find certified repair facilities listed on the websites for your vehicle brand
• Look for a facility that shares their detailed repair process from start to finish
• 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
• Look for repair shops that are approved to work with insurance carriers. This can help ensure the facility meets high repair standards. In addition, the facility can coordinate your repair with your insurance company for you
• Only trust your vehicle to an established body shop business. When there are weather events like hurricanes, hail storms or tornadoes, be leery of taking your vehicle to facilities that don’t have a history of operating in the community
• Visit the body shop and survey the location. If the lobby, customer areas and repair bays are clean and well-organized, it’s more likely the business is run well
• 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 confirm what repairs will be covered
• Get the timeline of when the work will be done and when the job will be completed, but understand that any additional damage discovered during dis-assembly or delays in parts could extend that repair time
• Detail the payment terms and methods, including downpayment, final payment and costs for any follow-up work before you agree to the repair
• 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’s right. A high-quality repair facility will review your repair with you and address any concerns you have

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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