Assessment begins in Fulton for hail-damaged cars

State Farm expects to process hundreds of claims related to hail damage from storms during the first week of April.

A "drive-thru insurance clinic" is open in Fulton beginning Saturday to assess hail damage for State Farm customers.

Although there was no sign of hail or severe weather Saturday morning, severe thunderstorms and hail earlier in the week left its mark on cars and trucks in Callaway County.

Fulton Resident Dustin Branson said he came home to an unpleasant surprise after Thursday's storm.

"It's pretty exciting because I just bought it for my sister a couple weeks ago," Branson said. "It looked pretty good before... it's not so nice anymore."

The damage to Branson's car isn't visible from a distance, but a close-up reveals hood and spoiler damage in the form of dozens of tiny dents. Like many others, Branson hopes his insurance will help him out.

"We'll get it all figured out," Branson said. "We'll take it in, get it fixed next week sometime, get it back to the way it was."

Saturday, State Farm opened its mobile insurance clinic for their customers. Although they dealt with roughly 30 appointments throughout the day, Claim Manager Bob Artlip said the clinic expects to process hundreds of claims over several weeks.

Branson said each customer goes through a process that can take anywhere from a half hour to an hour. "We start the process of evaluating the damage and writing the estimate, and then from there we work on the settlement of their claim, getting them paid."

The damage to each car can range anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

Branson said it is impossible to know what the total cost will be to fix all of the damage, because each car has a different amount of damage from the storms.

Once the appraisal process is complete, most people will drive away with a settlement and are free to choose where they want to get their vehicle fixed.

Not too far from the clinic, dent repair expert Mark Baumann said it is important to make sure the job gets done correctly once claims are processed.

"You just have to get references from the people they've done work for in the past," Baumann said. "Just normal stuff. There are good people and there are bad people, you just have to do your homework."

The clinic will run through 6 p.m. Saturday and will resume Sunday morning.