Insurance damage price tag on New Mexico hailstorm tops $10 million

October 9, 2006

More than 2,200 auto claims and approximately 950 homeowner claims have been filed due to a hailstorm in southern New Mexico, an insurance industry association said.

Pea to golf ball sized-hailstones battered Las Cruces, N.M., on Sept. 13, cracking skylights and smashing windshields as the storm cut a swath along I-10. The heaviest damage was on the Southwest corner of the city around the Mesilla area and New Mexico State University.

All the hail has added up to an estimated insurance price tag of $10.3 million, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. RMIIA noted that orders for roof repairs are stacking up across the city, with some contractors estimating up to a three-month wait. Many motorists also are faced with lengthy waits for insurance adjusters and repair shops to address repairs.

Claims adjusters report the higher than expected number of car damage claims is primarily due to the storm hitting the New Mexico State University Campus. In fact, with the hail’s impact on the student population — many of whom may drive vehicles insured by their parents living elsewhere — families across the state will be affected by the isolated storm system, the association indicated.

Reports of damaged student vehicles are being filed, and university officials are still cataloging the damage to facilities and grounds.

“We did have some fairly intense hail,” Rich MacRorie, director of facility operations, told the Associated Press. “Considering what happened in the surrounding areas, we got off fairly light. We had a couple of greenhouses that had a substantial amount of the glass broken.”

Some companies have brought in special catastrophe teams and have opened drive up claims centers to help with the settlement process. “Las Cruces doesn’t historically experience this kind of damaging hailstorm, so it’s easy to forget the kind of damage that those little white stones can do in just a matter of minutes,” said Carole Walker, executive director of RMIIA.

In advising consumers, Walker said, “Insurance companies are geared up to handle the incoming claims, so if you haven’t yet contacted your carrier to report damage, you need to do that as soon as possible.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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Insurance Journal West October 9, 2006
October 9, 2006
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