We report an implementation of the linear vibronic coupling (LVC) model within the surface hopping dynamics approach and present utilities for parameterizing this model in a blackbox fashion. This results in an extremely efficient method to obtain qualitative and even semi-quantitative information about the photodynamical behavior of a molecule, and provides a new route toward benchmarking the results of surface hopping computations. The merits and applicability of the method are demonstrated in a number of applications. First, the method is applied to the SO2 molecule showing that it is possible to compute its absorption spectrum beyond the Condon approximation, and that all the main features and timescales of previous on-the-fly dynamics simulations of intersystem crossing are reproduced while reducing the computational effort by three orders of magnitude. The dynamics results are benchmarked against exact wavepacket propagations on the same LVC potentials and against a variation of the electronic structure level. Four additional test cases are presented to exemplify the broader applicability of the model. The photodynamics of the isomeric adenine and 2-aminopurine molecules are studied and it is shown that the LVC model correctly predicts ultrafast decay in the former and an extended excited-state lifetime in the latter. Futhermore, the method correctly predicts ultrafast intersystem crossing in the modified nucleobase 2-thiocytosine and its absence in 5-azacytosine while it fails to describe the ultrafast internal conversion to the ground state in the latter.