Today’s weather forecast is looking a bit stormy. By the time you read this or shortly afterwards, we may be experiencing strong winds and hail. Even if the skies remain clear today, we are bound to meet with Mother Nature’s fury at some point this spring.
Hail is inevitable in the Midwest storm season. Most often, it is isolated to one area and does minor damage to vehicles and homes. Sometimes, however, we experience more widespread and severe destruction, with thousands of people feeling the impact. Last year, 2012, brought on a storm for the record books; many people were uncertain about what to do when their cars were in much need of hail repair. We decided to share a few insights to keep in mind in the event of another storm.
First, we urge you to attempt to relax. As in any catastrophic event, people are of utmost importance. We will make it like it never happened, but in the event of widespread hail damage, patience is required. You can call us for guidance at 636.305.8288, we are happy to help. Following the 2012 storm, we often had more than 100 people calling us at a given time, and many had to be placed on hold. In the event of another catastrophic storm, we have plans in place to have extra customer service representatives available! Keep in mind, however, the first step to getting hail damage repaired is through your insurance company, so you may be better served to call them first.
As you contact your agent or insurance company, remember that you are one of thousands of people in the same situation. Often, the company will set up Catastrophic Inspection areas, where representatives will be available to assess damage and assist with claims. This is a great service, but it often takes at least 4-5 days to coordinate, even in the case of a minor event.
There are two categories of hail damage which most people experience:
Light damage involves dents on the surface of the vehicle. With light damage the car is drivable. We know you would like to see your car repaired as quickly as possible, but keep in mind that there is no need to rush. With light damage, the paint is usually not affected and there would be no long-term problems, even if you waited several months to repair. With most insurance companies, you have 6 months to a year to file a claim. So, take a deep breath, drive your car, and we promise to have you back to normal as soon as possible.
Severe hail damage causes a car to be un-drivable. This usually involves broken glass, most often the rear window. The most important thing to do first is to protect the interior of your car from water damage. Move your car to a garage and out of the elements if possible. Otherwise, duct tape and plastic may be a good temporary measure. Those people with cars that cannot be driven are usually taken care of first. Last year, we towed more than 80 vehicles in a single day. Therefore, even those with top priority experienced some wait time.
At Schaefer Autobody Centers, we are hoping for a wonderful, safe spring in the St. Louis area. We know that the weather can get out of control, and from time to time we will experience the impact of severe storms. When that happens, we are here to help you through the process and to Make It Like It Never Happened.