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Paintless dent repair experts: find a reputable shop and avoid the fly-by-night 'storm chasers'

Tapping into a niche, PDR becomes big biz in Colo
Posted at 4:56 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 21:15:24-04

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DENVER— Mother Nature has been unforgiving to our homes and cars this severe weather season.

And in the aftermath of hail, comes the storm chasers. Scammers who try to take advantage of you when you're most vulnerable.

So, Contact7 is getting under the hood of your car to uncover what you should know about paintless dent repair. 

“We’re the only happy people when it hails," said Brandon Dunaway, director of operations for HailCo paintless dent repair.

"I've got 22 years of experience doing this," said Rick LeRoux, a certified paintless dent repair technician. "We get behind the damage and slowly massage the metal back up into its original place."

Unlike traditional body shops that sand down and repaint your car, this is paintless dent repair.

"As long as your car wasn't hit by softball-sized hail, typically it can be PDR'd, which is paintless dent repair," Dunaway said.

PDR can save you a ton of time and money.

"I don't think anyone wants their car in a body shop for six to eight weeks," Dunaway said. “Sometimes that can’t be avoided, but no one prefers that.”

At HailCo, the turn-around time is about two weeks. In terms of savings, HailCo will often pay your deductible and offers free rental cars when that’s not part of your insurance plan. Colorado law prohibits roofing companies from paying your homeowners insurance deductible, but the same laws do not apply to auto insurance.

There's also a buyer beware here. Just like roofing scams, the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association says beware of “fly-by-night paintless dent repair’ shops that lack a physical address in Colorado.

They're called storm chasers, and they're often in it for a quick buck.

"The problem with it is those companies come to town and they don't do the best job - and then their phones don't work six months later," Dunaway said.

Experts offer these tips: be skeptical of anyone calling from an out-of-state number; also, ask for what's called a guarantee of work; and finally, check references and always coordinate with your insurance company.

"Whether you fix it with us or someone else, check Google, check Yelp, check reviews," Dunaway said.

If the work is shoddy, it could ding your car's resale value.

"It takes years and years to develop the skill-set,” LeRoux said.

Most of HailCo’s technicians are contract workers who come with their own tools and expertise, like LeRoux.

Also at HailCo, insurance adjusters with some of the biggest companies like Geico and State Farm work right on-site, providing car owners peace of mind.

"All you have to do is call us,” Dunaway said. “And we handle everything from the very beginning to the very end. We do on-site evaluations at your home, or your business. We handle everything with your rental cars and your insurance companies.”

And here, there is a guarantee.

“It’ll look like it did the day before the storm,” Dunaway said.