Hail damage is one of those situations that can be rather tough to prepare for. The only way to be sure that your vehicle will never get any hail damage is to leave it in a protected garage... all the time. Since this just isn't realistic for most people, many people get car insurance that covers this type of damage. Having the insurance isn't enough, however. You need to actually file a claim to get proper compensation for this kind of damage. Read on to learn how to turn your "hail no!" into a "hail yea!"
Step 1: Call Your Insurance Contact
The moment that you realize your vehicle has hail damage, call your agent. This isn't a formal claim at this point, but is rather an informal notification that a claim is coming soon. Your agent may be able to give you some helpful guidance about how to file the claim if you have questions or feel unsure. During this time, your agent may also be able to tell you what the timeline for claim completion may look like.
Step 2: Document the Destruction
Before you actually file the claim, it is smart to document the damage to your vehicle. Although most insurance companies will have an adjuster evaluate the damage once the claim is filed, having your own documentation as backup is wise. To document the damage, simply take photos of every part of the vehicle that has any hail damage. The photos don't have to be ultra-detailed, but they do need to be clear enough to show every dent, bump, and crack on the vehicle. Keep these photos safe because you may need them soon.
Step 3: Make a Claim for Compensation
Many insurance companies make claim filing fairly easy these days. You can often initiate your claim on the Internet or via phone. Your agent will usually need your signature to officially submit the claim, though. You may be able to fax the signature or send an electronic signature in lieu of visiting the insurance provider's offices. Your insurance agent may ask for the photos that you took in the previous step when you're filing your claim, and you can submit copies (keep the originals!) at this time.
Step 4: Assert Yourself With the Adjuster
The insurance company will often - but not always - ask you to meet with an insurance adjuster. The adjuster is the person who generally makes the determination of how much damage occurred in terms of money. This means that the adjuster basically decides how much you'll get in the claim.
When they evaluate the damage, make sure that you compare their photos and evaluation to your own photos. If you see any differences, point them out immediately. Be polite but firm with the adjuster. Since hail damage can extend to nearly all surfaces of the vehicle, it may not be unusual for a few bumps to be missed by the adjuster. They shouldn't have a problem with you if you point the missed damage out respectfully.
Remember, the adjuster works for the insurance company, so their first priority is keeping claim payments reasonable. Your first priority should be yourself, and making sure that you get every penny you deserve!