Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Insurers expect thousands of claims after large hail up to 2 inches in diameter, heavy rain and gusting wind began pelting Madison, WI.

Insurers expect thousands of claims after Madison takes brunt of hailstorm


As quickly as Monday’s late afternoon hailstorm swept through Dane County, insurance adjusters soon followed to assist customers with claims of damage to vehicles and property.

The storm, according to the National Weather Service, passed through Dane County between 4 and 4:30 p.m. By about 4:15, large hail up to 2 inches in diameter, heavy rain and gusting wind began pelting Madison.

Within minutes of the storm’s passing, Madison-based American Family Insurance started getting calls from customers reporting hail damage. American Family estimates the storm could generate as many as 3,000 claims from customers in Dane, Sauk and Iowa counties, areas it suspects experienced the brunt of the storm.

It’s possible the number could go higher, said Linda Wagener, a spokeswoman for American Family.

“Some people may not be aware they have hail damage or may have been inside an office when the storm hit,” she said. “With all the news accounts of the storm, it likely will prompt people to look over their cars and homes, so more claims may come though over the next couple of days.”

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, American Family received 427 claims of vehicle damage and 261 property damage claims. About 20 members of the insurer’s catastrophe response team are working with local agents to assist customers in Dane, Sauk and Iowa counties.

Representatives for AAA Wisconsin, Allstate, State Farm and Progressive Insurance also reported receiving storm damage claims and are assisting customers. Allstate and State Farm said it was too early in the process to provide claims numbers and Progressive said it does not disclose numbers of claims filed by its customers.

AAA Wisconsin also was bringing in additional resources to process claims, though volume has been relatively light so far, company spokesman Nick Jarmusz said.

The National Weather Service in Sullivan began receiving reports of hail while the storm was still west of Dane County, said Mark Gehring, senior forecaster. Gehring said he had received few damage reports directly but expected many homes and vehicles in the Dane County area were damaged by the storm.

“Two-inch hail can cause significant damage,” he said. Gehring said the Dane County area typically experiences storms that generate 2-inch hail at least twice a year.

According to the National Weather Service, a line of thunderstorms moved across southern Wisconsin late afternoon Monday. The strongest storms began near La Crosse and moved east toward Madison, where spotters reported hail between 1 and 2.25 inches in diameter.

Steve Schultz, communications manager for Madison Gas & Electric, said about 4,300 Madison customers lost power during the peak of the storm. The first outages were reported at about 4 p.m.

He said by 6 p.m., power was restored to all but 1,200 customers. Many MGE customers had service restored by 2:30 a.m. Tuesday and all service was restored by 8 a.m. after workers replaced a utility pole near Glenway Golf Course that broke during the storm.