Hailstorm Causes Vehicle Damage in Bismarck; Progressive Offers Six Simple Steps to Getting Back on the Road

With hail as large as golf balls and winds of 60 miles per hour, yesterday’s hailstorm in Bismarck caused widespread damage to vehicles, including dents and broken windshields. If your vehicle was damaged, there are six steps you should take to restore it to its pre-accident condition, according to The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies (NYSE:PGR).

“We know how important it is to get you and your vehicle back on the road quickly – that’s what our 24/7, in-person claims service is all about. Understanding your repair options can help you save time and money,” said Scott Snapp, catastrophe response director, Progressive.

Progressive has already deployed members of its Catastrophe Response Team to Bismarck to handle the increased number of claims expected following the storm and will continue to monitor the need to allocate additional resources to ensure that customers are properly serviced in a timely manner. The company has set up drive-in claims centers in Bismarck and is encouraging Progressive customers who suffered hail damage to call 1-800-PROGRESSIVE (1-800-776-4737) as soon as possible.

If your vehicle is damaged in a hailstorm, Progressive recommends that you take the following steps:

1. Call your insurance company immediately to report the damage.

2. Discuss your repair with your insurance company and your local body shop. Hail damage to sheet metal may need to be repaired in a conventional manner. However, trained technicians may recommend paintless dent removal (PDR), which involves using specially-molded metal tools on the underside of a damaged part that won’t disturb the factory finish. This method is often used by manufacturers and dealers to repair new vehicles and will not invalidate paint warranties. PDR cannot be performed if the dents are too large, if there are too many dents or if the paint finish is damaged. Prior body damage that required plastic fillers or bonding may also make PDR difficult. Your insurance company will be able to determine the severity of your damage and consult with you and the body shop on which repair method makes the most sense for your vehicle.

3. Find a reputable facility. If you choose a repair shop on your own, contact the Better Business Bureau or get referrals from friends. If you take your car to a PDR provider, ask the shop how PDR works and how they access hard to reach places to make the repair. The preferred method is to pull the dents from the outside rather than drilling holes to access the dent from beneath the panel.

4. Find out how long the repair will take. Repair shops in and around Bismarck may be very busy, so repairs may take a little longer due to the volume of vehicles that need to be repaired. Because PDR is an efficient and effective technique for repairing damage to your vehicle, repairs generally can be completed within a day.

5. Make sure your vehicle is repaired to your satisfaction. Before accepting your vehicle, look at the surface in fluorescent lighting and from several angles so that you can see all the details. Check for any remaining dents before you take your vehicle home.

6. Ask if the shop guarantees its work. If you notice a flaw in your vehicle’s repair, you should be able to have it fixed at no additional charge. Know how your body shop will handle any problems you might have with your vehicle after the repair. Get guarantee and contact information in writing. Ask your insurance company if it guarantees the work of its preferred body shops and get all contract information in writing. If you use Progressive Claims Service and select a Progressive-approved repair shop, you receive the company’s Limited Lifetime Guarantee, which is valid for as long as you own or lease the car.

Taking these simple steps can help you get your vehicle repaired and get you back on the road. In addition, ensuring that you receive safe, high quality, cost effective repairs, keeps the cost of your claim down and can help reduce the overall cost of auto insurance for all consumers.

Progressive is the fourth largest auto insurance provider in North Dakota based on 2004 direct written premium.

The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, in business since 1937, ranks third in the nation for auto insurance based on premiums written and provides drivers with competitive rates and 24/7, in-person and online service. The products and services of the Progressive Direct Group of Insurance Companies are marketed directly to consumers by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE and online at progressivedirect.com through the Progressive Direct(SM) brand. The Drive Group of Progressive Insurance Companies offers insurance through more than 30,000 independent insurance agencies that market their products and services through the Drive Insurance from Progressive brand. For more information, go to driveinsurance.com.

Scott Snapp, catastrophe response director, Progressive, is available for interview.