Auto insurers dub hail storm a 'catastrophe'

5:16 AM, Aug 13, 2013   |    comments
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EAGAN, Minn. - Thousands of Minnesotans are dealing with the aftermath of the Aug. 6 hail storm.

The evening storm dropped hailstones on cars and homes in several south Metro communities.

Several auto insurance companies, including State Farm, have declared this storm a "catastrophe," a category based on the number of claims being filed.

As of Monday afternoon, 5,644 auto claims were filed, along with 3,367 homeowner claims, according to State Farm.

The company set up a temporary "mobile catastrophe services center" in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Eagan, which was one of the cities hard hit by the storm.

Policy holders made appointments several days in advance to bring their vehicles to the red and white striped tents for an evaluation of their damage and a resolution.

"Once our estimate writers have completed with their vehicle, they talk with the policy holder about the damages that we have seen and their estimates and then one of our settlers will sit with them and go over the estimate again and their payment," explained Lynn Thompson, State Farm Catastrophe Team Manager. "Then they get a check. When they leave, they leave with a check."

That, however, is not the end of the process, as explained by Chris Thorston, co-owner of Minnetonka Collision in Plymouth.

"Then, the customer takes the vehicle into a shop such as ours. We will re-evaluate it at that time. If everything is kosher, we will go ahead and start the repairs," said Thorston.

However, that presumes that the collision shop has an opening in their busy schedule.

"(Appointments) can take about a week," said Thorston. "And most repairs from what I am seeing look like they are probably about a 5-day repair."

Thorston noted that the first estimate of insurance costs may not be the last.

"If we need to contact the insurance company back and do what is called a supplement and kind of continue the process if we need additional repairs," said Thorston.

Insurance companies who have policy holders who believe they have hail damage from the Aug. 6 storm are urged to call their agent or the company as soon as possible.

State Farm customers can call 800-SFCLAIM (800-732-5246).

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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