CAR HAIL FAQS

Everything you need to know about Auto Hail Damage Repair. If I missed a question, call me and ask. To view the answers, click on the question.

Top 7 Vital Q&A’s (ignorance is costly):

  • 1. What are the 2 choices for hail damage repair?

  • A:  There are many options & companies to choose from but ultimately there are 2 general repair categories.

    1. Paintless dent repair (PDR).  We highly recommend it!
    2. Conventional body shop repair (CR).  We recommend you avoid CR when possible.
  • 2. What is paintless dent repair (PDR) and why is it the superior choice?

  • A:  PDR is the fastest, highest quality, least invasive, and most cost-effective method in the world for repairing hail dents.  PDR is the art of gently reshaping a dent to make it disappear with no sanding, no bondo, no painting, no replacing panels & no waste.

    Benefits include:

    • Insurance approved & preferred
    • Highest quality
    • Keeps your paint & panels “original”
    • Save time / faster turn around
    • Most cost-effective / no waste
    • Smarter
    • Highest durability
    • Least invasive
    • “Greener”
    • It’s the only method that protects your car’s:
    • maximum integrity
    • highest resale & utility value
    • built in factory durability & resistance to future damage
    • It’s the only method that avoids:
      1. The body shop mindset
      2. corrupting your factory paint
      3. destroying your manufacturer’s paint warranty
  • 3. Warning! What is conventional body shop repair (CR) and why should I avoid it?

  • A:  CR is a highly invasive process that includes filling hail dents with bondo, then repainting entire panels with an aftermarket paint of lesser quality than your factory paint.  CR also includes chopping your roof off & replacing panels. I am not demonizing the CR process!  In fact, it is necessary for collisions and damage too severe for PDR.  But anytime you add to, or take away from the factory product, there’s a potential it could fail. So, if your hail damage can be repaired properly with PDR, then it’s a no brainer. Choosing CR has the potential for your car to be more vulnerable to further damage and other problems such as mismatched paint, cracking, checking, crow’s feet, and becoming more chip prone.  The list goes on.  For example, at car dealerships, if you bring your car to trade it in, they will often use a paint meter to see if your car has been repainted, then deduct the price accordingly.  You are left with diminished monetary and utility value. If the original paint finish is disturbed in any way, your manufacturer’s paint warranty is often voided.  CR can also have the hidden cost of being red flagged on a Carfax report (many times the body shop is unaware).  This can reduce buyer confidence at time of sale.  Smart tip: Let the PDR specialist be the “quarterback” of your insurance claim rather than a conventional body shop. Note: We do not perform (CR) so there’s no conflict of interest.  Give us a call!

  • 4. Must read key concept! Why is it imperative to keep my paint, panels & seals original whenever possible?

  • A: Your original, factory paint & panels are by far the most resilient and best quality that you’re ever going to get.  They should last the life of the vehicle if maintained properly.  Engineered to spec then painted & baked in a unique process that cannot be duplicated in a body shop!  “Original” is the definition and essence of “perfect”.  It is ideal and superior to aftermarket versions in terms of safety, durability, color match, appearance, and film thickness.  Also, a car with original paint has a higher resale & utility value when compared to “aftermarket” paint.  So don’t corrupt your original paint! Don’t diminish the value of the car by repainting! Preserve it!  Key: Hire a pdr company to exhaust all possibilities to avoid (CR).

  • 5. Why is PDR better than CR for Hail Damage Repair?

  • A:  There are many reasons but the main reason is Quality! The best definition of quality = “original” (right out of the factory).  It is the only process that keeps your paint & parts original.  It is the closest you can get to “like it never happened”.

  • 6. What are the top 4 costly mistakes to avoid for hail damage repair?

  • A:

    1. Mistake 1:  Choosing a CR body shop because they “offer” PDR.  You may think you’re covering all your bases.  In actuality, this leaves you vulnerable to the body shop mindset, the “lens” through which they see damage, and the inherent conflict of interest (like keeping painters busy, temptation to chop a roof off because it pays more, etc).  On dents that “appear” to be more challenging, CR shops easily resort to CR when it could have been fixed with PDR (happens all the time).  Don’t take a chance on unnecessary respraying of your car.
    2. Mistake 2:  Believing that “because CR is more expensive, it must be better”.  This is a false belief.  Less is more!  Quality PDR is superior to CR since factory paint and parts are superior to aftermarket versions.
    3. Mistake 3: Not filing a claim when you have enough damage to justify it.  This can be very costly.  This happens typically either because of unfounded fear, or lack of accurate information.  Please read the insurance q and a’s below to gain clarity.
    4. Mistake 4:  Letting your insurance company waste your time doing the “run around”.  They will try to guide you into following their protocol which gets you to spend time on things that truly are unnecessary.  This delay tactic saves them money by reducing the amount of claims due to customer exhaustion.  It is also an indirect way to steer you to CR shops they have deals with.  If you choose us, all you need to do is call us, then drop your car off.  We will handle your insurance company with care.  Again, read the insurance Q&A’s below if you need clarity.
  • 7. Are you saying conventional body shops are bad?

  • A:  No way!  CR is truly a legitimate & highly respected craft.  As in any industry, there’s good ones and bad ones out there. We are always going to need conventional body shops for major damage too severe for PDR.  But if your damage can be repaired properly with PDR, then yes, choosing CR is a terrible decision.  In fact there should be great effort exerted to avoid CR to preserve your “original” paint & parts.  PDR = 1st resort.  CR = last resort.  Key: hiring a PDR company to navigate your claim is the best way to ensure CR is avoided unless absolutely necessary.

Inquiring minds want to know:

  • Q: How is PDR actually performed?

  • A: As highly skilled craftsmen, we use specialized lighting to cast a reflective pattern on the dent so we can “read” it correctly. Then, working from behind the panel, we use specially crafted rods, tips and balls to massage your dent with gentle, precise pushes & the right amount of pressure.  This reshapes the metal back to its’ original contour.  Your original paint and parts remain intact, and the results are truly amazing!  In cases where we are unable to access the dent from behind, we use specially engineered glue pulling systems and blending hammers to lift and reshape the dent from the outside. 

  • Q. Will my dents come back?

  • A. No.  When we fix your hail dents, they are gone forever.  100% Guaranteed!

  • Q: Can all hail dents be removed with PDR?

  • A: You have come to the right place!  Hail damage can almost always be removed perfectly by PDR. In fact we pride ourselves in fixing extreme hail!  However, if I encounter a dent that cannot be fixed to an acceptable level with PDR, then I can refer you to a conventional body shop I trust.

  • Q. Is there such a thing as “too extreme” of hail damage so that a car cannot be repaired with PDR?

  • A. Yes.  It’s rare but sometimes PDR is not an option. We will certainly let you know if your damage does not qualify.

Choosing the right company:

  • Q. How do I choose a PDR company for hail damage repairs?

  • A. Interview them.  Gain peace of mind by asking them the following questions (2 of them are critical):

    Critical question 1: Ask “Does your shop perform any “conventional” repairs in house?”  I.E. Replacing panels / bondo work / repainting.  If they do, my personal opinion is that you move on and choose a company that’s dedicated to avoiding CR and avoiding the body shop mindset.  A company dedicated exclusively to PDR.  This is the best way to ensure:
     

    • A superior repair by preserving the integrity of your original factory paint and parts.  Higher resale value.
    • You eliminate conflict of interest.  Conventional repairs almost always cost more than pdr so body shops are incentivized … for example … to replace a roof because it pays more than PDR.   Also, they are constantly looking for ways to keep their painters & “body men” busy.  On dents that “appear” to be more challenging, CR shops easily resort to CR when it could have been fixed with PDR (happens all the time).  Don’t take the chance.

     
    Critical question 2:
    How long have you been in the PDR business?  (I have been over 20 years.)  Paintless dent repair is highly technical, taking years to master.  Inexperience breeds mistakes and guess who pays the price down the road?  You.  
     
    Also ask:

    • Are you local?  Transient “hail chasers” can be problematic.
    • Are you licensed?
    • Do you offer a lifetime warranty?
    • Are you insured?
    • Do you offer a free preliminary hail damage estimate?
    • Do you offer help with rental?
    • Do you offer a free pick-up and delivery service?
    • Do you offer deductible relief (that’s your portion of the payment)?
    • Do you know how long the repairs will take?
  • Q: Does it really matter who I choose to fix my car’s Hail Damage?

  • A: If you had a problem with your heart, you’d choose a cardiologist and NOT a general practitioner am I right?  Likewise, hire a trusted PDR specialist to navigate your claim for peace of mind!

  • Q: Who is Brian Lewis, owner of Scratch Master?

  • A:  Hi, Brian here to introduce myself. I’m a flaming PDR enthusiast, hail claim expert & founder of a local PDR company called Scratch Master. I’m a 20-year expert at performing PDR with thousands of satisfied customers. It’s important that you know I am not an out of state hail chaser who will be gone tomorrow. I live, shop, and raise my family here. Headquartered in Littleton, Co., I serve the Denver Metro area and surrounding cities. It was copied from one of my other pages.)  I had the good fortune to be featured in Fox 31, Colorado Auto Dealer Association (CADA), the Wall Street Journal, and have an A+ rating with the BBB.  My team and I would be honored to work on your car.  For my full story, visit Our Story page.

What to expect when we fix your car:

  • Q: Does Scratch Master offer deductible assistance, rental assistance & free car pickup?

  • A: Yes!*  We find ways to help you with your deductible up to $1,000. Our goal is $0 out of pocket for you!  It’s a way we thank you for your business. We can also pickup your car and assist with rental.  *Our assistance looks different for each situation depending on the job & our client’s needs. Call us for details.

  • Q: I want to hire Scratch Master to fix my hail damage. How does this work?

  • A: Our Hail Damage Repair - PDR process is easy:

    1. Call us.
    2. If you’re insured for hail damage, call your insurance company and file a claim (or we can start it for you if you prefer).
    3. Drive your car to my shop and drop it off (or we can pick it up if you prefer).
    4. Sign the authorization form & hand me the keys.  You are finished.  My team and I will do all the insurance communication.  Feel confident you will receive a high quality repair!
  • Q: What happens after I drop my car off?

  • A: We thoroughly examine your car under state-of-the-art reflection lighting while documenting all the damage.  We also check for problem areas such as damaged moldings, cracked paint, and anything your insurance adjuster may have missed.  We then email our findings to your insurance company who will perform a desk review or send an adjuster out to reinspect the damage.  We work diligently with your insurance company to ensure you get a fair settlement, then start repairing dents AFTER we have come to an agreement.

  • Q. How long will it take to repair my vehicle?

  • A. Actual repair of your hail damage usually takes 1-3 days. BUT, on average we keep your car 7-10 business days.  Understand that your insurance company is involved in verifying damage, approving costs, documentation, issuing payment, etc.  Every move they make takes time.  Also, if a supplement (see below) is required, it might extend the time period needed to repair your vehicle.  We will explain what to expect when you come in for your free evaluation.

     

  • Q: Is your work guaranteed?

  • A:  Yes!  Your car goes through our strict quality control process to ensure a top-quality job.  We stand behind our repairs for as long as you own the car!

Insurance related:

  • Q: Should I file a claim?

  • A: It depends. Here’s the 2 most common scenarios:

    • Scenario 1: If you have a $500 deductible and you have up to $1000 in damage, then we likely will recommend you avoid a claim. Come see us for a true evaluation and friendly advice (it’s free).
    • Scenario 2: If your cost of repairs is significantly higher than the cost of your deductible, then absolutely yes file a claim.  Filing a claim is the very reason you pay for insurance in the first place.    If you do not file a claim, then your monthly premium will pay to fix your neighbors' car while you receive no benefit.  That doesn’t make sense!  So file a claim.  Otherwise you are not being fair to yourself.
  • Q: Will my rates go up if I file a claim for auto hail damage?

  • A: No and yes.  NO, I have never heard of someone being singled out for a rate increase (although it might be possible in rare cases).  Hail damage claims fall under the “comprehensive” portion of your insurance.  They are not held against you, since they are an “act of God”, “unforeseeable”, “no-fault” and “out of your control”.  However, because you live in Colorado, you already pay higher comprehensive rates. And YES, you will likely see rates increase statewide or in a particularly high hail prone area from time to time.  But rate increases for hail damage are spread to many policyholders at the same time rather than singling someone out.  Don’t worry!  You can check with your insurer for their explanation.

  • Q: What is my time limit to file a claim before the opportunity expires?

  • A:  It’s common to have 6 to 12 months to file a claim from the date of loss.  If you fail to file within the given time frame, you can forfeit the opportunity to receive a payout.  Many car owners put this off with the good intentions of doing it later.  Then life happens and they forget to their own detriment.  Another reason to file soon is … if during your delay, your car is hit again in a subsequent storm, a repairable vehicle can easily turn into a totaled vehicle.  So to be safe, the sooner you file, the better.

  • Q: I got hit with a little bit of hail damage. It might hail again and I prefer to wait to fix it in case it gets hit again this season. Is there a problem with that?

  • A: Yes there are problems.  3 issues here:

    1. First of all, we will try to cover your entire deductible so if you’re concerned about your cost, we will do our best to mitigate that.  Our goal is $0 out of pocket for you.
    2. See question above.  If it gets hit twice, it may total
    3. You agreed on your policy that a claim is filed “per incident”.  You will be asked questions and if you say, “no this was one incident” you are committing fraud.  Here is typical policy language you likely agreed to: “It is unlawful to knowingly provide false, incomplete, or misleading facts or information to an insurance company for the purpose of defrauding or attempting to defraud the company.  Penalties may include imprisonment, fines, denial of insurance and civil  damages.
  • Q: Do I have to use the body shop my insurance company recommends?

  • A: No.  The authority to choose is 100% yours.  Auto insurance is not like an HMO (health insurance) where they tell you what doctors you can use. State laws require auto insurance companies to work with the repair company YOU choose.  There are no negative consequences.  Insurance company “recommended” shops are CR shops that are under contract requiring them to charge you full deductible. Realize you are not limited to your insurance company’s suggestions.  Scratch Master is independent and pays your deductible up to $1000 keeping money in your pocket due to our efficient & and affordable process.   And … we work with all insurance carriers!  So if your insurance company tells you that you have to go with their “recommendation”, tell them to put that in writing. They won’t do it because they know they are engaging in an illegal practice called steering.

  • Q: My insurance company is telling me I need to gather 3 estimates before they will pay for Hail Damage Repair. Am I required to do this?

  • A: No.  Ask them to show you that in writing (they won’t do it). They want to put you to work as this is one of their delay strategies. They know that folks are busy and many will put this off or forget altogether until after they have missed their deadline.  Then it’s too late.  Others won’t find the time and eventually give up on fixing their car (saving insurance company money).  In my 20 years in business, I have never seen or even heard of a job’s pricing be determined by comparing 3 estimates.  Price is always determined at the shop you choose when the insurance adjuster meets the technician in front of pricing software.  If you want your car fixed, it’s truly this simple: Take the time to find a shop you feel comfortable with.  Then call to schedule the drop off of your car.  If you choose us, my team and I will handle the entire process hand in hand with your insurance company.  You can relax, we’ve been there, done that.

  • Q: Why would an insurance adjuster write my initial estimate significantly lower than repair cost, then cut me a check? What are the results of this?

  • A: This is completely intentional and here are 3 reasons:

    1. It’s profitable for them.  They know that a lot of folks will keep the money rather than fix the car. Think about it.  If you were an insurance company, would you give a time intensive detailed estimate at full compensation if you knew the beneficiary wasn’t going to fix their car but rather go to Hawaii?  Here’s an example of how it works: one hail season our average hail claim (according to the insurance companies) was about 6K.  For those same 6k cars, they initially wrote those estimates (and checks for the car owner) for $1,000 to $1,800.  If the customer kept the money rather than fix the car, then the ins co just pocketed $4,200 -$5,000.  That is a lot of money when you consider multiple thousands of hail claims across the world. This is just their initial savings.  They also save on future admin, and they know future claim payouts get denied or reduced since new claims of any kind (including collision) will reveal there is unfixed hail.  This is common policy around the world, not a back alley exception.  All the while you continue to pay full premium and if you choose this route, you will be driving a less valuable & less insurable eyesore. I am not demonizing them nor am I condoning what they do.  When push comes to shove, they are going to take care of your car while also trying to mitigate their losses and protect their bottom line.
    2. It’s not illegal & many clients are unaware so they get away with it.
    3. Adjuster will get fired if their supervisor finds out they write it correctly the first time (adjusters have admitted this to me personally).
  • Q: I received a check from my insurance company. I want to keep the money rather than fix my hail damage. Can I do this & is this a good idea?

  • A: Yes you can do this, but fair warning!  Here are 6 ways you can be negatively affected:

    1. You’re getting lowballed.  The check you received is called an “initial” pay out and in most cases it is intentionally written extremely low (often at approx. 1/5 to 1/2 the actual cost of repairs.)  The remainder is paid after your car is fixed. So if you settle for initial pay out, you accept far less value than a repaired car.  See previous question for more details.  
    2. Your coverage becomes “iffy” yet you still pay full premium.  If you don’t fix the car, your insurance company still considers the claim fully reimbursed and you continue to pay full premium.  Now fast forward … let’s say someone sideswipes you down the road or perhaps you are hit in a future hail storm. Coverage will be either denied altogether or significantly reduced due to pre-existing hail damage even though you have been paying for full coverage.  However, if you fix your car, it is brought back to “fully insurable” status.
    3. Resale value is reduced big time.  When you sell or trade in your car, a dealer often examines your car under special lighting to check for hail damage (even if you consider it minor or barely detectable).  Dealers and buyers are very savvy here in Colorado.  Even if the hail doesn’t bother you, it still affects sales price and a future buyers insurance coverage.  So dealers & private buyers are paying attention!
    4. Selling to a private car buyer undisclosed can put you at risk under lemon laws.  You think you’ve made a sale.  Then Bam!  You may be forced to buy it back once they realize its not fully insurable.  This scenario is also unethical so make sure to give full disclosure if you sell “as is”.
    5. You are under contract to fix the damage if your car is a lease or if you are making payments to a lienholder.  Fix it or pay the consequences.
    6. You might feel less confident and ungraceful in some social circles.  Owning a hail damaged car is a downgraded experience.

Cost / pricing:

  • Q: Scratch Master offers deductible assistance? Tell me more!:

  • A: Yes!  We usually find ways to help our clients with their deductible.  Our goal is $0 out of pocket for you.  It’s a way we thank you for your business.

  • Q: What process is used to determine the cost of repairs to a Hail Damaged Car?

  • A: It’s techie geek stuff but if you want to know … A master PDR technician examines the car under specialized reflection lighting while documenting the damage into estimating software.  We email the estimate to your insurance company who then either gives a desk approval, or schedules an adjuster to come physically verify the damage even if they’ve done an initial inspection.  The adjuster inspects, enters data into their estimating software, we compare notes, and we determine the actual cost together.

  • Q: What is a supplement and how does it work?

  • A:  It is an extra (supplemental) payment for additional or missing operations not included in your insurance company’s estimate. If all damage is correctly documented on their estimate, then no supplement is needed.  Example: the claims adjuster writes that there are 5 dents on your roof when in actuality there are 25 dents.  In this case, we would supplement your insurance company for the additional 20 dents.  Almost every insurance claim across the world will have at least one supplement (sometimes more) since insurance companies do not write it correctly the first time.