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Recent Texas Hailstorms Could Cost Insurers Up to $2 Billion

Source: BestWeek

Posted on 19 Jun 2012 by Neilson

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HailstormA hailstorm that pummeled the Dallas area last week could rack up insurable losses as high as $2 billion, according to the Southwestern Insurance Information Service.

"I went conservative with my estimate at 60,000 vehicles damaged," said SIIS President Sandra Helin. "I qualified my estimate that this is preliminary."

Helin said she estimated that insurable damages from the June 13 storm could tally between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, though she said she hopes it doesn't get that high.

Three of the top five personal lines writers in Texas, which control just under 40% of the private passenger auto market and 48% of the homeowners market, reported that about 25,000 claims have come in since the hail hit.

"I'm sure those numbers will continue to climb through the day and over the next few days, so that's what we know right now," said Gary Stephenson, the Texas spokesman for State Farm, of his company's claims.

Stephenson said State Farm, which is the largest writer of homeowners and private passenger auto insurance in Texas, had received 9,570 auto claims and 4,816 homeowners claims as of the morning of June 18.

A spokesman for Farmers Insurance said in an email that his company reported handling just over 6,000 of combined homeowners and auto claims. A spokeswoman for USAA Group reported the company was handling a combined 4,600 claims.

Hail struck the Dallas area during the evening of June 13, just as local highways were packed with commuter traffic. Helin said baseball-size hail rained down with enough force to shatter windshields and cause injuries to drivers and passengers. She said at least two bands of storms, each about 30 miles wide, swept through the area. Helin said the area is blanketed with high-end and historic homes that were damaged and there were reports that hail broke tile roofing in some areas.

Texas has been getting walloped with severe weather this year. Tornadoes raked the Dallas-Fort Worth area in April, causing at least $650 million in damage (Best's News Service, May 8, 2012).

In March, a strong storm struck McAllen, producing large hail and wind gusts of 75 mph. Homes in the area, which are commonly in the $500,000 to $1 million range, were struck and damages were expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars (Best's News Service, April 4, 2012).

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and USAA Group companies currently have a Best's Financial Strength Rating of A++ (Superior); most Farmers Insurance companies are rated A (Excellent).