Navigating hail claims on two cars, not alike in dignity
August 11, 2015 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Both our cars got hit by hail damage this summer. I've filed the claims and just got back from the adjuster's estimate for the newer car. We've never lived in an area with frequent hail damage before, so I'd appreciate advice on how best to proceed.

Should we have the insurance-recommended shop repair the damage, go to a different shop that specializes in paintless dent removal if they can do it for cheaper, or forgo the repairs for now and just take the insurance payout? I feel like I should shop the estimate around to other shops, but I'm concerned about how I would "prove" to my insurance company that the damage was sufficiently repaired if I don't use their recommended shop, or if I forgo repainting and replacing parts in lieu of just doing paintless dent repair and calling it good enough. I'd appreciate any help in thinking through this pragmatically.

Points to consider:
  • We typically keep our cars for 10-12 years.
  • We've recently moved to a hail-prone area (Colorado).
  • We have a garage, but hail storms seem to strike at times when the cars are not parked in the garage (afternoons, a summer weekend when I parked at the Denver airport, etc.).
  • We don't want to be in a situation where not having repaired our hail damage prevents us from having insurance pay out on a more serious claim (like a serious collision).
  • Our insurance is through USAA.
  • Paying the deductibles is not a hardship, but I don't like wasting money.

  • Vehicle Details:
    2013 Subaru Impreza. ~10k miles. Blue Book value ~$19500 before hail damage. Repair estimate $6122 (including $500 deductible), which includes both paintless dent removal and conventional repair.
    2008 Scion tC. ~40k miles. Blue Book value ~$7500 before hail damage. Repair estimate TBD. Seems a little better off than the Subaru, so hopefully not getting into salvage title territory.
    posted by deludingmyself to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
    Welcome fellow 2013 Impreza owner with Denver hail damage! I've been pondering how best to approach the same situation with my leased Impreza. In Colorado, your insurance can't dictate where you do repairs, so shopping around is necessary. I just finished my search yesterday for a shop which would play nice, have time to fix my car, and seems competent. Get the repair done! I was originally expecting to keep my car, but found a good deal and I want to get the most I can for my trade. $500 is a good investment in the unexpected future of your car.
    posted by salsamander at 10:50 AM on August 11, 2015

    I had this same issue 2 years ago (in Texas) and I asked my insurance company this question: If I take the check and decide not to get the repairs done, then later get into an accident, will the damage from that accident be covered? Their answer was Since I still have collision coverage on that car then Yes, it would be covered but only so far as the new accident caused damage. So, if one hail-damaged panel gets accident damage and it's next to a hail-damaged panel with no accident damage, the first panel is covered but second panel would not be covered.

    For the other car which was totaled, but we kept the car and the (lower) check - they required us to remove the collision coverage from that car. If the car is hit by someone else, those repairs would be covered under the other insurance or under Uninsured Motorist insurance, but if we (or nature) caused damage to our own car, that would not be covered. Also, we still have liability for this car, so if we hit someone else, their damage is covered but ours is not.

    For my house insurance - and I think it's the same for cars but I could be wrong - if they give you a check to cover estimated damages and you find a place to fix it cheaper, you are eligible to keep the difference. If you choose a place that actually costs more than their estimate, you can resubmit the bill and collect the higher amount from the insurance company.
    posted by CathyG at 2:38 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

    If you're considering taking the insurance payout and not getting the work done, you should be aware that it's standard procedure for insurance companies to lowball you on the initial estimate and only pay out the real repair costs if/when you actually get the work done.
    posted by Betelgeuse at 3:56 PM on August 11, 2015

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