Ind. April Hailstorms Generate $560 Million in Claims

July 24, 2006

A wave of April thunderstorms that pummeled central Indiana with hail the size of golf balls, or bigger, has so far generated insurance claims totaling $560 million, making it one of the state’s costliest weather events.

The Insurance Institute of Indiana said about 177,000 central Indiana residents have filed claims totaling $560 million to replace homes’ ruined roofs or gutters and to repair dents and smashed windows in automobiles.

“For many companies, it is the biggest storm they can recall, in terms of dollars,” said Marty Wood, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute of Indiana.

Most auto repairs have been completed or scheduled, and now the focus is turning to residential repairs as homeowners decide whether to get roofs and gutters fixed.

Although the April 14 storms created lots of damage, they caused no deaths and only a few minor injuries.

For some homeowners, the icy onslaught of large hailstones, some of which were the size of tennis balls or baseballs, was actually good news. For a $500 or $1,000 deductible, their homes will receive a new roof costing their insurance company thousands of dollars.

“For a lot of people, it is a gift. It is a blessing in disguise,” said Scott Surette, a home inspector from Indianapolis. “It’s a 10, 12, or 15-year-old roof that is OK, but they have a golden opportunity to get a new roof, and the insurance company is footing the bill.”

Bob Skinner, who lives in Indianapolis’ Pike Township, said he will get the roof of his ranch home inspected next week. He waited three months to get it done. Part of his motivation is because, on his street, “everybody else is doing it.”

“If it’s a problem, I want it taken care of before it becomes a problem,” said Skinner, 35. “And before I miss the opportunity to take care of it.”

Doug Miller of Coomer Roofing of Indianapolis said that the storm was good for his company, which by the end of June had already exceeded revenues for all of 2005.

On Friday, his crew was sweating out another job nailing shingles onto the pitched roof of a home in Indianapolis’ Meridian-Kessler neighborhood.

The state’s Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general’s office says it has received relatively few complaints since the storm, and most of those have dealt with the timeliness of getting insurers to pay for repairs.

“The number of complaints relating to work not getting done, scams by home contractors and those kinds of complaints that we have jurisdiction over, have not been voluminous,” said Staci Schneider, spokeswoman for Attorney General Steve Carter.

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