Filed Under:Claims, Auto

Where the hail is my estimate?

Hail storms can cause a variety of damage and a great appraiser should be able to handle multiple types of claims. (Photo: P. Harman/PropertyCasualty360.com)
Hail storms can cause a variety of damage and a great appraiser should be able to handle multiple types of claims. (Photo: P. Harman/PropertyCasualty360.com)

You’ve heard the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” but these showers also bring hail storms. And, these hail storms bring insurance companies huge quantities of damaged property needing estimates.

In fact, the current price tag for 2016 hail damage in North Texas alone is near $3.4 billion, and it’s still early in the season.

This influx in damage causes insurance companies to become overwhelmed with claims. In the meantime, customers are emotional because there is likely more than one type of property damaged — multiple cars, roofs, siding and the like.

Car dealers

Aside from property damage, auto dealerships are often one of the most hard-hit businesses when it comes to hail.

As perfect targets for storms, many times damage is so bad that dealers have to offer inventory at a discount to move it off the lots faster. To deal with the mass damage, these businesses will often hire an appraiser to come out to their lots and estimate a few different vehicles. From there, they then apply that estimate to all of the cars on the lot.

Related: Hail-related insurance claims by the numbers

Although this method works for car dealers, unfortunately, it is not applicable to insurance companies that need to provide individualized service to their customers, since each customer has a different policy.

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Nationwide Hail center

After a major hail storm, companies frequently set up temporary sites to adjust claims more quickly. (Photo: P. Harman/PropertyCasualty360.com)

Tent estimates

Alternatively, to keep up with the large quantity of auto damage claims that come in, insurance companies will set up tents for customers to drive through to get their claim handled quickly. However, these setups require an overwhelming amount of manpower.

After major storms hit, insurance companies are already swamped and many times under-staffed. What may seem like an easy fix can actually create more headaches for overtaxed insurance companies.

One way insurance companies can handle these situations involves working with independent appraisers to complete estimates quickly. An appraisal company with a national network has the ability to pull in appraisers from other parts of the country so cases can close faster. If your company is already sending staff to hard-hit areas, independent appraisers can help backfill areas where the staff becomes too thin.

Hail damage can stretch beyond cars. Find an appraiser that is versatile. A good appraiser estimates one type of property well. A great appraiser can estimate multiple types — autos, homes, RVs, etc. — exceptionally. Be sure to check which services independent appraisers provide to make sure they will be able to handle all types of claims. They should be willing to work seven days a week if necessary, until the backlog of claims has been reduced, and should be familiar with estimating platfoms, as well as any mobile tools that will allow them to assess claims faster.

The right independent appraiser will be knowledgeable and help to effectively supplement your existing staff, while completing claims in an accurate and timely manner.

Ken Loose is the chief operations officer at Forth Worth, Texas-based Property Damage Appraisers. He can be reached at ken.loose@pdaorg.net.

Related: Severe storms bring rain, hail and questionable claims 

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