The inside scoop from Root’s claims expert
It sounds like something from a post-apocalyptic movie, but in this case it’s true: Two years ago, millions of baseball-sized hail fell from the sky and pummelled San Antonio and much of South Central Texas.
The 2016 natural disaster ended up being the costliest hail storm in Texas history, with more than $1 billion in damages reported and more than 100,000 cars and countless houses affected, according to the Insurance Council of Texas.
Depending on where you live, you could face any number of other natural disaster threats—from tornadoes to tropical storms, flooding to high winds. And since many of these natural disasters can happen at a moment’s notice, getting ready for a storm now, before it hits, is the best approach. So we sat down with Root’s VP of Claims, Chris Wells, a 20-year veteran in the claims industry, to get the inside scoop.
How can Root customers prepare for a storm?
Storms can strike surprisingly quickly, and if you’re not prepared now, you might struggle to know what to do in the moment.
“It’s almost tragic,” Chris says. “People are completely distraught when a traumatic event happens in their lives, as any of us would be, so they’re usually not thinking clearly when they call to report a loss or damage to their property.”
We’ve gathered 6 storm safety tips that are quick and simple.
1. Take photos of your car now
Most people don’t take the time to keep before pictures of their vehicles on hand, but it’s a critical step to making your claims process easier. Giving your claims adjuster “before” and “after” pictures helps ensure your claim is processed smoothly, quickly, and accurately.
2. Find cover
As you might imagine, avoiding storm damage to your car is as simple as finding cover.
If you don’t have a garage or other available shelter at your home, locate places ahead of time near your home and/or work where you could potentially store your car, even if only for a couple hours.
Pro tip: Malls with covered parking areas are a great option for temporary shelter, both for you and your car.
3. Buy a hail blanket
It sounds silly, but it’s a real thing. Several retailers sell hail blankets or sturdy car tents to protect your car—even just portions of it like the hood and roof—from storm damage. You can even find instructions online to make your own hail blanket.
“The biggest challenge from hail damage is that it affects an entire region,” Chris remarks. “So body and repair shops get backed up for months with hundreds of cars that need repairs. Anything you can do to avoid it in the first place will save you months of headache.”
4. Check your coverages and deductibles
Most insurance providers, including Root, don’t allow changes to deductibles immediately before, during, or after natural disasters. So it’s important to check your coverages monthly, quarterly, or, at the very least, yearly.
“The worst time to check your coverage is when a storm is hitting,” Chris advises. “You should check regularly to make sure you have collision and comprehensive coverages and that you’re comfortable with the deductibles.” Without comprehensive coverage, you’re stuck paying for repairs from storm damage on your own. (Learn more about how to choose collision and comprehensive.)
5. Scope out auto body shops
Familiarize yourself with the auto body and repair shops in your area. If you don’t have a mechanic or repair shop, seek recommendations from friends and family or even neighborhood Facebook groups.
“If one auto body shop stands out as really convenient to you, have it ready when you report the claim,” Chris says.
Knowing this information can speed up the claims process, because it means we can spend less time looking for shops near you with openings.
6. Familiarize yourself with the Root app
Calling around for an auto shop is a hassle, and during a natural disaster, they’re typically inundated with phone calls.
“With Root, you just open the app, punch in what happened, and hit send,” Chris exclaims.
It really is that easy. You can file your claim, submit pictures of your damaged vehicle, and get confirmation that your claim was filed—all within the Root app.
“Root’s mobile app is truly unique and convenient,” Chris says. “We’re leading the industry in the claims process, and we’re continually adding new features to the app, too.”
You will soon be able to select a repair facility from the app, request credits from Lyft, and set up a rental reservation for the days your car is being repaired.
“We intend to make it very, very easy to use your app for your entire claim so that payments are issued fast and the whole process is transparent,” Chris proclaims.
While we hope you never have to encounter a rough storm or natural disaster, you now have some easy ways to prepare yourself and your car if you do. And if one comes your way, we’ll have you covered.
Don’t have the Root Insurance app yet? Download it now.