Car dealership sees 400 vehicles with hail damage after Tuesday's storm

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WATERTOWN, S.D. Things may seem more like summer now, but our friends up North are busy dealing with damage from the storm that rolled through last night. Car dealerships and auto repair shops in Watertown are working on hail damage to their customer's cars as well as the ones in their own lot.

In the 16 years that Scott Driscoll has been with Watertown Ford Chrysler, he's never seen a storm as sever as the one that rolled through on Tuesday night. The hail didn't stay for a long period of time, but came in spurts of about 10-15 minutes long.

The storm was so bad that it damaged around 400 vehicles in the Watertown Ford Chrysler lot. The dealership is bringing in adjusters to help out with all of the damage.

"They'll have the ability to fix all of them if they want to and people will be able to buy vehicles as is or fixed - whatever they want," says Driscoll, the owner and president of the dealership.

Personal vehicles coming in with hail damage are also keeping the dealership - and soon the adjusters - busy. The adjuster company coming in will have tents set up just a few feet away from where the dealership sits and are good at PDR or "paintless dent removal." Having them come in for a few days will help get everyone's cars fixed faster than normal.

"We'll work with them. They'll write the estimates for their insurances and we'll be able to help them do those. It takes a lot of pressure off of us," explains Kirby Gardner, the body shop manager of Watertown Ford Chrysler's Auto Body Solutions.

The 400 cars that saw hail damage from the storm are being marked down in prices and sometimes this brings out those people looking for a good deal.

"Typically we get bargain hunters coming out, wanting to save a bit of money," says Driscoll. "This is more severe than we've had in the past, so we think we'll see more than we've ever had before."

While Auto Body Solutions and the dealership itself saw their phones ringing off the hooks for hail damage estimates, it's not something anyone needs to rush into doing. Gardner suggests turning your claim into your insurance company first before anything else.

The Watertown Ford Chrysler Auto Body Solutions expects to stay busy with all of the hail damage repairs until November.