Insurers are finding out the recent severe weather in Texas took a heavy toll on vehicles. The tornadoes that ripped through Arlington, Lancaster and other parts of North Texas on April 3 left behind a load of business for roofers, body shops and tree services, according to Chad Hemenway, writing in Property Casualty360.com.
Caliber Collision Centers, which operates 103 centers, including 16 in North Texas, has scheduled repairs on hundreds of cars damaged in the storm, said Todd Dillender, vice president of operations for North Texas.
Repair centers in Lewisville, Corinth, Duncanville and Arlington have seen the most traffic, and Caliber is offering customers the option of having work done faster at less-busy Caliber centers in the area, Dillender said.
“We’re able to leverage our scale and size,” he said.
Damage estimates from the storms continue to grow.
Mark Hanna, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, said Friday that estimated insured losses from the storms have increased to $550 million from earlier estimates of $500 million
At least 50,000 autos and nearly 30,000 homes were damaged, up from earlier estimates of 45,000 autos and 25,000 homes, Hanna said.
“I would not doubt that it is going to hit $600 million,” Hanna said.
The storms have drawn contractors from outside the region, and Hanna stressed that consumers should deal only with firms whose reputations they can verify.
“The majority [of outside contractors] may be the nicest people in the world,” Hanna said. “But there are others who are going to take advantage of people, who are going to get up on a roof that doesn’t need work, who create damage just to get the job.”
At Caliber, Dillender estimated that it might take several months to work through the backlog of hail damage.
“It’s a little early to tell,” he said on April 19. Insurance-claims activity is still fluid, “and I think it’s going to carry on for a couple more months.”
Customers in Coppell were hit hardest by the storms, he said. Damage from hail and flying debris was the most common problem, he said.
If customers at a busy center choose to have another Caliber facility repair their vehicle, Caliber will transport it to and from that center, Dillender said. All the work, however, stays within the region, he said.
State Farm has logged 8,610 auto claims, and 1,221 vehicles can’t be driven. Most automobiles that cannot be driven suffered damage from the tornadoes, says spokesman Gary Stephenson.
Other autos show significant damage from hail—some the size of tennis balls—which fell during the April 3 severe-weather outbreak in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Nicole Alley, spokeswoman for USAA, says the Texas-based insurer is also seeing many auto claims. The insurer has received about 3,800 total claims.
Jerry Davies, spokesman for Farmers Insurance, says the storm system was a “huge hail event.”
Farmers has received nearly 5,000 claims, and 3,120 are auto claims. The insurer sent its mobile-claims-center bus to Arlington,Texas.
The bus is equipped with communications equipment, laptops and phones for customers and non-customers.
Stephenson says he has seen many storm sites, and every one affects him.
“You go in knowing what you are going to see; you’ve seen it before,” he says. “But when you get there, it’s always overwhelming.”
For many carriers, claims are accumulating fast as homeowners pile up fallen tree limbs and destroyed contents and pieces from their homes.
“Some are just able to get back to try and recover some belongings—see what they can salvage,” says Alley, who last night fol