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Storm Damage to Vehicles

Storms can damage autos in a number of ways:

  • Hail damage to the exterior and glass
  • Flood damage to the engine and interior areas
  • Wind driven debris damage
  • Damage from fallen trees
  • Tornado damage

Coverage for these types of losses is provided by your policy under the "Comprehensive" portion of the auto policy. Some policies call this coverage "Other than Collision".

How to file and settle a claim

  1. Call your agent or the claims processing center listed on your "Minnesota Insurance Identification Card."
  2. Document the damage with photos.
  3. Obtain estimates from repair facilities. Your insurance company may want more than one estimate including one from their preferred facility or claims center.

Repairing your vehicle

  • If the repair estimates are less than the value of the auto, the insurer will likely proceed to pay for the repairs. Generally repair of the auto is made by using parts of the same year and manufacturer as the damaged auto (used parts). You can not be required to accept "after market parts".

  • You may choose your own repair facility. However, if that facility is not the low estimate, you may be responsible for paying the difference.
  • If the windshield and windows are damaged, original equipment glass is not required to affect replacement.
  • Hail damage can be repaired using the dent-less paint repair procedure. If the procedure does not repair the damage, replacement of the damaged parts would be required.
  • Can I ask for cash in lieu of repair? Yes, if you don't have a lien holder. However, the insurance company may subtract the profit/overhead that is in the bid of the repair facility. (You can't profit from a claim).
  • Determining the market value of a totaled vehicle
    • If the estimate of repair is close to the market value of your auto, the insurance company will begin to consider declaring it a total loss.

Minnesota law requires insurance companies to pay "the cost of a comparable auto, adjusted for mileage, condition and options in the local market place of the insured" (with all applicable taxes and license fees). Usually this is determined by checking internet sources such as Car Soup, cars.comAuto Trader and the local newspaper. An insurance company can obtain a market survey of recent sales of comparable autos from a vendor.

If you disagree with your insurance company over the market value of your totaled vehicle, check with them about whether you can request the "appraisal process." Both you and the insurance company hire appraisers. If the two appraisers can't agree, they jointly hire an umpire to make the decision. You pay for your own appraiser and one-half of the umpire fee.

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