Getting the Car Assessed for Hail Damage

A few weeks back, we had a pretty crazy hail storm hit Chicago. While I delayed a bit in calling the insurance company, it took until now (three plus weeks later) before I could even get in to meet with the insurance adjustor. There were so many vehicles damaged during that storm, the appointments windows were booked up solid.

When I pulled in to the repair shop (where my insurance company has a guy on-site to do estimates), I was asked what area code I lived in. Apparently, Logan Square 60647 was one of the two areas that got most of the hail damage.

This is a photo of Jim the Insurance Estimate guy (in red), along with one of the guys who does the repairs. They were looking and counting all the various divots and dings on my car. At first, I felt pretty good in that they were saying my car looked a lot better than others they had seen. But by the time they finished counting, I think the estimated number of dents was somewhere around 125.

Fast forward to the finally tally: all told, the amount of damage done to my car was around $3,300. I was amazed at how much it was, and Jim remarked to me: It’s surprising how quickly those little bits add up. Luckily for us, our insurance is paying for about 2/3 of the total amount. Still though, it’s a bit of a dent in the wallet too, if you’ll pardon the pun.

I had a good time talking and working with Jim, who explained a lot about the process. As he was doing the numbers, it turned out to be cheaper to completely replace the trunk of the car vs. having it repaired. He said that with the hail damaged cars, they could pull up and he could eyeball them as wrecks: cars that were either heavily damaged or too old, where the repair was more than the actual value of the car.

Jim told me about some of the ways they went about repairing the damage, including some kind of laser/light that they placed on the vehicle. It was a thin, red line of light… and if the line went squiggly in spots, you knew there was a dent that needed fixing. He also talked about some of the more damaged cars he’d seen, and was kind enough to walk me over to the “graveyard.” There, he showed me several cars that looked like they had been worked over with a hammer.

There was one van that literally looked like a piece of old armor: dented over the hood and roof, and you’d swear there was a polka dot pattern over the whole thing. Other cars in the graveyard had small dots all over them – a special marker used to denote a single dent. In this large garage, walking by rows of cars… each one looked like it had a constellation drawn on its hood. At times, it felt like walking through an infirmary, where every patient had come down with a horrific case of measles.

I wanted to take a few photos to share online, but didn’t for fear of getting Jim in trouble. It was definitely a sight to see, and my car definitely looked better by comparison.

Due to the many cars that were damaged by the hail, the repair process is also backed up. I’ll have to bring it back in the shop for them to do the actual work, but that might not be for another few weeks yet.

Holy Shit, I Just Bought A New Car

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