How to inspect a hail damaged vehicle

By Chris Stanley, IA Path Founder and Host of The Independent Adjuster Podcast


This adjusting superpower will give you x-ray like vision to see hail dents that average adjusters and owners cannot see. There are many misconceptions on how to properly look at a vehicle, but this is the technique of true professionals. 

I want you to do an exercise the next time you are outside with your vehicle. Look at your hood and find reflections in your hood. Do you see the clouds? How about the light pole? Telephone or power wires? The old barn? Whatever you see in your reflection off the hood, focus on one object. Now move your head and keep track of your object. Walk to the left, now the right. Were you able to keep the reflection the whole time? Good.

Now I want you to find a hard-line in the reflection. This is a light pole, edge of a roof, anything that is solid and a different color than its surroundings.  Your goal each and every time you look at a hail damaged panel is to find a hard-line reflection. Find one that is straight and stands out in the reflection.

When you move your head and the hard-line comes across a hail dent, you will see your light bending superpower in action. The hard-line reflection will bend to the shape of the hail dent. It will become distorted and reveal how far the metal has been stretched. This is because the metal is not flat at this spot. 

That is how you find dents and properly size the dents. When looking at a dent on a hood what you can see with your naked eye is only part of the stretched metal. When you use your light bending powers, you will see the true size of the dent.

This same technique is extremely useful in counting the dents across a panel. Each time you see the reflection flicker or go distorted you know a hail dent is present. 

You are armed with the knowledge to see the damage that is present on a vehicle, have a basic understanding of the repair operations, and how to determine what is best for each panel. We now need to pull all of it together to make notes to be able to create a digital estimate. 

We document the damage of the vehicle in the same manner that we take photos of the vehicle, the same way each time. We start at the same place, left front, and go the exact same route around the vehicle as we did with the photos. 

Below is my guide to the order in which you should inspect hail damage panel by panel.


Do you see how doing the photos and the scoping in the exact same order would ensure you are consistent and give you a rhythm to follow? You may have your own order already established and I’m not challenging anyone’s methods, but it needs to be the same every time. As your guide I encourage you to do it the way I’ve laid out, to take my advice, and to apply my methods.


Become an Auto Adjuster..

IA Path is dedicated to helping you become a working auto adjuster with comprehensive training...

Check out the video on this topic below…


Mathew Allen

I teach new catastrophe adjusters how to get started in the business.  I also build my own websites and sites for friends (who sometimes pay me).  In addition, I film and produce personal adventure videos for hunting and fishing clients.