As storm season arrives, insurance agents encourage people to prepareApril 24, 2021
With a hail storm followed by a heavy rain storm, thousands of Texans have already filed insurance claims this year related to weather.
AUSTIN, Texas — Friday’s storm brought down heavy spurts of rain to Central Texas. Last week, Mother Nature pelted Austin’s suburbs with hail. Texas is already on track to have the most hail damage insurance claims in the country again.
“In 2020, we ranked number one for hail losses in the country – just one insurer, State Farm,” Chris Pilcic, part of the State Farm communications team, said. “We paid $474 million on hail damage across the state last year.”
Pilcic estimates State Farm will match the number of those claims this year. Because of the pandemic, insurance agents and claims adjusters have been meeting with clients virtually. The new medium for meeting “face to face” helps representatives handle more claims faster. Pilcic estimates adjusters can meet as many as five times the number of claim filers than prior to the pandemic.
“Instead of me actually out there looking at the damage and assessing it, I’m actually having to train the customer to look at the damage through my eyes, through my lenses,” Dwight Dunn, a claims adjuster based in Tennessee, said.
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Dunn helped assess the damage done by hail to Dan Roehl’s vehicles last week. Roehl lives in Georgetown and met with Dunn over FaceTime.
“I was going to pick up my son in North Austin. About 15 miles into my drive, I was in traffic when the hail started coming down,” Roehl said. “I got off the road and into a parking garage, I got lucky.”
Roehl and Dunn still estimate there were dozens of dents left by golf-ball sized hail on his pickup truck.
“When we set up these virtual inspections with the customer, it’s very little that they need to do to prepare,” Dunn said. “We just ask that if they’ve got some loose change lying around the house – a quarter, or a nickel, and a dime – and using their smartphone, they can walk us around the vehicle. We can talk about specific panels. And one of the questions that we like to find out for the damages is what size predominantly are we seeing on the panel?”
RELATED: Hail damage: What to do after the storm
Roehl and other claim filers use the coins to give approximate size of hail damage.
From last week, Pilcic said State Farm received 6,400 hail damage claims, mostly from the Pflugerville, Round Rock, Hutto and Georgetown area. Storm season is here. Pilcic and Dunn recommend people look at their insurance policies now, see what’s covered and how best to protect your property.
“When it’s safe to do so, moving anything outside like patio furniture, under cover, getting your car into a garage if you have one inside your home, closing your blinds and drapes,” Pilcic said. “That way, if we have hail so large and so dense it breaks windows, it prevents additional damage from being done inside your home and potentially prevents injuries as well.”
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