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Confessions of a Dent Guy

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Your coverage decreases, shouldn't your premium ?

Posted on February 25, 2020 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (231)

Vehicles are undeniably a depreciating asset. They depreciate arguably 10 to 15% per month depending on what source you reference. So a vehicle currently valued at $20,000 is depreciating at $200 to $300 a month. For this example let’s use the lower of that figure over a year. So every month, in the case of a total loss, your insurance owes you at least $200 less for your vehicle than it did the month before. Over a year, your insurance owes you $2400 less than it did one year before. So if they owe YOU less, shouldn’t you owe THEM less? You would think but that’s now how it works.


It’s funny how people are so afraid to use their insurance because they think it will make their insurance go up, when in fact their insurance is going up every month whether their premium increases or not and regardless of claims or not. If you bought a gallon of gasoline for $2 and every time you go back, you get a little less gasoline every time, even though you are still paying $2, you are getting less value per $ than you were before, hence the price for what you are getting is indeed increasing. This is exactly what is happening with your insurance.


Here is the fact of the matter when it comes to hail claims which fall under your comprehensive part of your insurance. Comprehensive rates are based on your billing LOCATION unlike collision rates which are based on your location AND your risk potential ie your prior driving record, accidents, claims etc.


If you live in a small population, I don’t care if every single man and woman makes a claim on every car they drive, comprehensive claims in that insurance territory are NOT going to change. On the other hand if you live in a heavily populated area and 100’s of thousands of people make claims, comprehensive insurance rates are going adjust in that area regardless if you fix your vehicle or not.

In both cases not repairing your vehicle leaves you with a greatly devalued asset and your premiums are going to do what they are going to do based on the population density in your area regardless if you fix your vehicle or not.


One reason the rich get richer and the poor stay poor are due to their financial habits. The rich let the poor pay for the repairs of their vehicles by using their insurance and the poor let the rich benefit from their premium payments by paying their insurance and not using it.


How to choose a dent shop. Aren't they all the same?

Posted on February 11, 2018 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (183)

When I left my first dent shop sales job, one of the challenges I was going to face was choosing another shop to work with. My original shop had always claimed to be the "best in the business". Well, as it turns out, they all claim that. Over time and from working with quite a few different shops I am now pretty efficient at sorting through all the variables that one must consider in making a solid choice for the repair of a hail damaged car. Below are some of the top things that  I focus on when I am "interviewing" a new shop.

  • Negative reviews - I always look at the negative reviews collectively. It's easy to get 5 star reviews when everything goes right, but what about when everything doesn't go right? Negative reviews are usually a reflection of what happens when a company's quality control starts to fail. Sometime this can happen from trying to do too much volume, or losing a key employee(s), and sometimes it comes from general loss of care. I've seen owner's who get burned out and quality control suffers greatly.
  • Fake reviews - I call it the friends and family plan. That's why I tend to focus on the negative reviews (which can also be fake) but I find mostly that the fake reviews are the positive ones and reviews can be purchased as well. Watch out for shops that get caught paying "hush money" to have negative reviews removed by clients. Why focus on doing a good job when you can simply pay somebody off when you don't? That's why all of my shops are 99.9% to 100% 5 star reviewed. In this industry there really is no reason to have anything less.
  • How much are the technicians getting paid? - Think of your technician as your surgeon. It stands to reason that the most capable surgeons are going to be worth the most money. PDR mills, the big shops that do a lot of volume typically pay their technicians the least. These shops also give away a lot of money in order to be a PDR mill, giving money back to the client to bribe them for their business, waiving $1000 deductibles, plus a free rental car, and paying excessive referral fees. While that might be flattering and that $200 check you got might make your wallet feel good for the moment, that all adds up, and here is what the consumer doesn't know, all that free stuff comes off the "ticket" and the ticket is what your surgeons pay is calculated from. So a lot of it  coming out of your techs pocket. For every expense there is, let's say $200 for referral fee, $250 for a rental car/loaner, and a $1000 deductible, that's $1450 your surgeon is not getting paid on. Add into that an excessive "shop fee" and the next thing you know the surgeon that's working on your car is making a fraction of what they should be making. A technician who's skill level is valuable won't remain in that situation for long. I've never known a really talented tech to work in those conditions and for good reason, they can go elsewhere or open their own shop and get paid what they are worth.
  • Owner/techs - So far the most effective situations I have found are what I call an owner/tech, that is, the guy who is doing your work also owns the shop. First, in this scenario the technician is making the most money and second, they are doing the work under their own brand name so this is where pride and ego come into play. You are never going to get a better job than when the guy's name who's fixing the car is on their work. In a PDR mill situation, the customer never knows who their technician is, a lot of the time the service advisor probably doesn't even know who the tech is. In this case, if the tech does a bad job, other than being reprimanded or losing their job there are no repercussions such as negative reviews. An owner/tech puts the most into their work hopes of earning a positive review on their job which has a tremendous value in the future.
  • Overhead - There's a balance here, you don't want your car being fixed in a tent or a shed but you don't need a mall sized shop either. What does that have to do with anything? If the rent on a shop is too much, I've seen it affect the quality of repairs in the form of what is called an "appearance allowance" this is where shops don't replace parts as an "offset" to your deductible waiver. Two things, 1) don't have a high deductible, it cost like $5 a month to have a crazy low COMPREHENSIVE deductible, I mean like $100 a month low. Not only will this make your repair shop more excited about working with you, in the event you have a non hail comprehensive claim (theft, vandalism, other acts of God like high wind etc) then it's much nicer to have a low deductible. I myself keep a $100 deductible for this reason and 2) keep rental insurance on your vehicle. Being in this situation will make you a favorite customer and you'll notice many times that a lot of non hail related things "magically" get fixed on your car. If you are in an extreme situation and there needs to be something ommitted it should be done with the knowledge of all parties.

Fool me once, fool me twice.....

Posted on December 11, 2016 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (226)

Insurance companies are in business to make money, and consumers are all too happy to help in that process. Simply stated insurance companies want to take more money in than they spend out. A LOT MORE. Yet consumers forget the nature of the beast they are dealing with. In the hail business insurance companies curb their losses by shorting the first or initial estimate. This starts with the initial inspection of your vehicle. Most people assume that this initial inspection of their vehicle is the only inspection needed because they assume what we call "the first look" in the industry, is actually accurate. Out of the hundreds upon hundreds of repairs of vehicles I have consulted on, maybe a dozen of those that were looked at out in the field were sufficient and did not need a final inspection and supplementation. Whether this is intentional on the part of insurance companies or not, I'll leave that up to the reader to decide. But what is not debatable is that when a car is assessed at hundreds if not thousands of dollars short of its actual damage, the insurance company stands to save whatever that amount is if the customer doesn't repair the vehicle. So let's say a vehicle has $5500 actual damage on it, and they insurance company cuts a check to the owner for $3500, they just saved $2000 as long as the customer doesn't fix the vehicle. If they do there is a process called supplementation where the shop doing the repair reviews the original estimate, they look at the actual damage on the vehicle and they request additional or "supplemental" monies to cover the extra work or parts that need repair or replacement. Multiply this scenario times thousands of cars and insurance companies stand to save millions upon millions of dollars by engaging in this shorting process. The trick is to write the initial amount high enough to an insured that isn't familiar with the value of the damage of their vehicle which is most people. If they write the initial estimate too low and it's obviously underwritten, that will prompt the client to seek additional assistance in being compensated for the remainder of the damage. However if the insured gets a substantial amount of the damage, they are more likely to do something with the money other than use it to fix the vehicle, and whether that is the end goal of insurance companies or not, I cannot say. But I can say after observing hundreds upon hundreds of this scenario that this is definitely the outcome. I often see people take $2000 or more less for the loss of value on their vehicle because they believe they've made out like a bandit somehow, when in fact it is the insurance who has come out on top of the deal.

A lot of people also think they if they don't get their vehicles fixed that they will somehow save money on their insurance because their premiums won't go up. You'll see some hail companies say that making a hail claim won't raise one's insurance, and technically if you were the only person in your city who got hail damage that's probably correct. It's not you making a claim that will raise your premiums. It's your neighbors. If you live in an area that got hit by hail and let's say your car was covered and did not get affected, guess what, your premiums will adjust to help disperse the loss in that area. This is simply how insurance works. So when I come across someone who has hail damage on their car, who has the coverage to fix it and they don't because they are thinking they are somehow saving money? Let's look at the math on that. Let's say for example someone has $5000 of hail damage on their car (this is a very common amount). If you take $5000 and divide that by $25 a month (let's say that's what they think they are saving that their premiums won't go up by not making a claim) 5000/25 is 200. That's how many months one would have to pay in additional premiums to equal the loss they just experienced, that's 200 month or 16.67 years of paying an additional $25 in premiums to equal the loss they just experienced. You can play with the numbers to satisfy whatever your expectation of the "change" is that you might experience. The hugest irony here though is that people who think this way are going to not only suffer the $5000 loss in value of their vehicle, their premiums are going to go up anyway due to all the claims made in their area. The only way to avoid this would be to well, MOVE. It doesn't take a large amount of investigation to figure this out. Simply post a query in the Next Door app or anywhere else and ask, and you'll probably get a similar result as below.


Jammed up dent shops costing insurance companies a LOT of money...

Posted on June 9, 2016 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (191)

I've seen stories that talk about numbers in the 50,000's when referring to the number of cars that got hit by recent storms, and that was addressing just one storm. Now we've had three major hail impacts in the area starting with March 17th in the Arlington Fort Worth areas, then 6 days later the west side got hit from Lewisville, to Plano, and on out to Wylie on March 23rd. On April 11th a diagonal line hit from above Decatur all the way over smashing Plano and Wylie again. Everywhere I go I see hail damaged cars, you can't stand in one place and throw a rock in any one direction and NOT hit a hail damaged vehicle. 

People who got their cars in the shop in those first few days after the first storm avoided the traffic jam most are now experiencing. But now that the tsumami has finally made it ashore we're starting to see the real impact. Some shops have waiting lists ranging into the months. If you work in the industry like I do then you know that in addition to there just being a lot of cars being scheduled into the shops there are two more sources of delay.

The first one is scheduling the supplement which 99.9% of the cars have done on them and then waiting for the supplement to be either approved by desk review or an adjustor dispatched back out to the shop for the final inspection. If this goes well this occurs in 24 to 72 hours.

Here's the second one, and the biggest and most important one right now if you are an insurance agent or adjustor. Once that supplement is approved, how many cars are in line ahead of it?

I've seen shops with a hundred cars or more that are in line waiting to be approved and with more cars being scheduled in behind them. For claims where insurance is providing rental car coverage on a vehicle while the damaged vehicle is waiting to be supplemented, then waiting on it's turn in line to go into production, this is a financially critical factor. At $30 to $50 a day the cost of rental adds up quick and in most cases it's due to lag in the system, waiting for the adjustor to get out for the final inspection, THEN waiting for its turn in line as the cars that were approved before it get worked on. The big well known shops are vicitims of their own success and advertising. People go where they know to go and right now that's causing this huge delay.

Enter your independant hail damage consultant. ME :)  I know something that the majority of the public, insurance agents and adjustors don't. I know where the shops are that can get your cars out in a timely manner. One of my services is that I monitor my shops work load. I have a timer in my spreadsheet which calculates how many days my clients cars are taking to get done. The advantage to this is that I am able to distribute work load across my shops. The end result is that while everyone else is talking about waiting for weeks to even get their car into a shop, then waiting who knows how long once the vehicle is approved to be worked on because there are tens even a hundred cars in line ahead of it, I am consistently rotating cars in and out of my shops in 7-10 business days as long everyone is doing their part.

The end result is a happy client who is delighted to have their car back in such a timely manner in the midst of all the chaos due to these monster storms, and for the insurance companies I'm saving you $30 to $50 a day in rental that your company is not having to pay simply do to lag time of the system. It's all about delivering that 5 star experience. It's what I do.... - Hail Advisor