Be Prepared for the Next Big Hailstorm

04/11/2018

Luckily, 2018 has not seen the level of severe weather and hailstorms that caused record damages in 2016. Two years ago, hailstorms caused a record $6 billion in damages to homes and vehicles across the state and on April 12, 2016, San Antonio had the costliest hailstorm in Texas history.

That day, the National Weather Service reported hail as large as softballs striking northwest Bexar County and moved across the city of San Antonio causing $1.4 billion in insured losses.

The intensity of the storm caught weather forecasters off guard as it dropped large hail for a 60 mile stretch and at times, six miles wide. Two more hailstorms, on April 25 and 29, would cause an additional $600 million in insured losses.

“So many vehicles were damaged in the San Antonio hailstorm that local auto body shops couldn’t handle the demand,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas. “Insurance companies were towing damaged vehicles to Austin and Houston for repairs.”

Paul Yura, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New Braunfels, says the city of San Antonio is not in what has been designated as the nation’s “Hailbelt”, but that doesn’t rule out where destructive hailstorms can happen.

“I never thought San Antonio would own a record when it comes to hail, but it just shows you that in Texas everything is big, and severe weather can happen anytime and anywhere,” Yura said.

Despite the less severe weather so far this year, there have been several Texas cities hit by damaging hailstorms. In central Texas, on March 18, Smithville, Caldwell and Bryan were hit with baseball size hail and residents in Celina, Prosper and Collin County were hit with large hail on April 6. Neither of these storms has caused the severe damage seen in the 2016 San Antonio storms.

Regardless of this year’s mild spring storm season, the Insurance Council of Texas urges Texas residents to be prepared and check to make sure you have the right amount and proper type of insurance coverage for your auto and home. You never know when a 2016 level storm can happen.

You can also take steps to protect your auto from hail damage:

  • Stay alert for the possibility of severe weather. If you are aware of a severe storm, move your vehicle to a safer place like a covered garage.
  • If you're driving during a hail storm, pull over. Look for a cover under an overpass or covered parking lot.
  • Drivers who can't find covered shelter can protect their windshields using car floor mats, blankets or cardboard. You can keep these items stored in your trunk if you know you live in a high storm risk area.
  • Car covers are also used to protect vehicles. These covers can range from $30 to $500 and be quite useful in a damaging hailstorm.
  • Purchasing comprehensive insurance coverage is the best way to protect yourself from an expensive bill from hail damage.

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