Your car was damaged in a hail storm, and you are afraid that the insurance company will call it a ‘total loss.’
This is a very common concern of owners with later-model cars, SUVs, and trucks. For example, we had a customer with a 2012 Ford Escape that had approximately 15-20 dents on the hood and about 28-30 on the roof. There was no paint chipping. The vehicle only had 125k miles on the engine and, outside of the hail damage, was in nearly perfect driving condition. The owner was concerned about filing a hail damage claim because they were afraid the insurance adjuster wouldn’t pay to get the dents repaired because the damage nearly exceeded the current value of the vehicle.
We love our vehicles, even if they are a few years old. It just seems like such a waste to scrap a perfectly functioning vehicle instead of getting it repaired. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t see it that way.
In this article, we will discuss the options you have if your insurance deems your car a ‘total loss,’ the steps you should take to protect your investment, how to file a hail damage claim, and more.
Insurance Company Definitions – Auto Hail Damage & Repair
What is a late-model vehicle?
LawInsider.com defines a ‘late model vehicle‘ as the current-year model of a vehicle and the five preceding model years, or any vehicle whose actual cash value is determined to have been at least $10,000 prior to being damaged.
What is a ‘Salvage Title?’
A vehicle receives a salvage title when an insurance company declares it a total loss, warning future buyers that there was a significant problem. Vehicles are usually marked a total loss when a vehicle is damaged so severely that, financially, it doesn’t make sense to repair.
What does ‘total loss’ mean?
Since hail typically hits the entire vehicle, the whole car is likely to be damaged, and such significant damage is challenging to repair. If your insurance company deems your vehicle a total loss, they will write you a check for your car’s actual cash value, minus your deductible, instead of estimating repair costs.
Number one reason why you should file a hail damage claim even if will be a ‘total loss.’
If you have been waiting to get your car inspected for hail damage because you are afraid it will be a “total loss,” now is the time to call your insurance company and file a claim…and this is the #1 reason why.
Let’s say you haven’t yet filed a claim, are out driving around, and get in a fender bender. What would be a typical quick and dirty claim with your insurance, no matter who was at fault, would turn into a completely totaled vehicle. No salvage title, no buy-back option, no reimbursement option….nothing.
Alternatively, if you had filed the hail damage claim – you would be afforded options.
What steps should I take if a hail storm has possibly totaled out my car?
- File a claim with your insurance company. If you live in the Oklahoma City area, follow the steps provided here. We have already repaired nearly 200 vehicles from the April 2023 storm and know the fastest and most efficient way to get it done. 1 out of every 4 of those vehicles were totaled out.
- Get an estimate for repairs. As you can probably imagine, Oklahoma City insurance companies are pretty backed up due to the multiple hail storm occurrences this year. More than likely, they will direct you to either a body shop or a paintless dent repair shop to get an estimate. Just beware of ‘steering.’ You can read more about it here but in short – you have the right to take your vehicle to any shop you choose for an estimate and repairs. To schedule an estimate with Superior Dent Solutions, you can choose your appointment date/time here.
- The hail damage estimate. If your assigned adjuster comes to you, they will inspect the vehicle and then send you the results of their findings usually by email. If they tell you that you should take your vehicle to a local OKC shop for an estimate, they will want a full inspection plus pictures of the damage if we suspect the vehicle is a ‘total loss.’
FAQ Total Loss Hail Claims
If I choose to just ‘do nothing’ and not file a hail damage claim with my insurance company and just drive my vehicle ‘as is?’
If you have a lien/loan through a bank on your vehicle that has not been satisfied, you are required by law to file an insurance claim. The biggest reason – if you don’t file a hail damage claim, have a ‘late model car,’ decide to take a chance and drive the vehicle anyway, get in an accident (even a small fender bender) – you will get ZERO for the vehicle damage IF the combined damage exceeds the current value of the vehicle.
What are my options if my insurance company ‘totals’ out my vehicle as a result of hail damage?
Salvage title buyback. You can either keep the vehicle by purchasing it as a ‘salvage title.’ The ‘salvage title’ value is basically the blue book value of the vehicle minus 40%. Using the example car above – if the 2012 Ford Escape has a Kelly Blue Book value of 9k, the buyback ‘salvage title’ would cost you $3,600.
Check for current value. If you decide to take the money for your vehicle, you should definitely do some research so you don’t get lowballed. First, do a local search on cars.com, Kelley Blue Book, or even Google for a vehicle that best matches the specs of your vehicle – including trim and pre-loss condition. Take screenshots of at least 3. Get the average of the 3 vehicles and provide this information to your insurance company.
What Oklahoma cities have the most ‘total loss’ hail claims from the 2023 hail storms?
Superior Dent Solutions – Oklahoma City
If you have questions about auto hail damage claims and concerns about your car being a ‘total loss,’ the auto hail repair Oklahoma City experts have the answers. We can walk you through the process of filing your hail claim and dealing with your insurance so you receive the best possible outcome. Schedule online or call us at 405-415-6775.