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Hail or hurricane, Fortune 500 auto dealer counts on Zurich

October 4, 2018

Sonic Automotive recounts Zurich’s swift claims service in hours after damage from hail and flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

Hailstorms and hurricanes rank high on auto dealers’ list of most dreaded weather.

Sonic Automotive, one of the largest automotive retailers in the U.S., experienced both calamities shortly after moving the dealerships’ insurance protection to Zurich. After Sonic’s first hail damage claim, the company quickly understood why more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies also are Zurich customers.

“Zurich’s claims team took care of us like we’d been with them for years,” Sonic’s Director of Risk Management Tim Hallice said. “I knew immediately why our broker had recommended Zurich.” The worst storms were yet to come. Just a few months later, Hurricane Harvey swept into the Houston area, followed by Hurricane Irma in Florida. The relationship was again put to the test.

“Zurich was prepared to respond to our claims needs before the storm even hit Houston,”Hallice said. Sonic Automotive has 19 dealerships in the Houston area. “That’s a lot of vehicles to move to a safe place quickly. We were able to move cars from the most threatened dealerships, minimizing the potential overall damage.”

Harvey caused flooding in areas that were forecast to remain dry. Some Sonic locations had significant losses, resulting from floodwaters up to 9 feet high in buildings. Once again, Zurich delivered.

Zurich’s first and foremost concern was for the people. Second, was about what could be salvaged. Anticipating demand for replacement vehicles from Houston residents, Zurich helped Sonic assess damage to vehicles quickly. Road conditions and closures complicated that task.

Afterward, Zurich worked with Sonic to apply learnings from Harvey to enhance Sonic’s hurricane preparedness plan for all of their locations. That’s one reason only two Sonic vehicles were damaged in Irma.

“We definitely chose the right insurance provider in Zurich,” Hallice said. “No one could have done better.”

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