In the hailstorm’s aftermath: Is this covered by insurance?

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and ROSE FRENCH , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: August 8, 2013 - 6:57 AM

Homeowners facing downed trees, damaged roofs and dinged-up cars are hoping their insurance will take care of repairs.

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Hundreds of people in the Twin Cities worked to clean up downed trees, shattered glass, and other debris Wednesday, scrambling to find out if their insurance would pay to repair the damage caused by a fierce hailstorm.

More than 70,000 Xcel customers lost power at some point during the Tuesday night storm and its aftermath, most of them concentrated in Eden Prairie, Edina, St. Louis Park and Bloomington. By Wednesday evening, refrigerators were humming and lights were glowing in all but a few thousand of those homes. Traffic signals in Minneapolis also went dark Tuesday night, causing motorists to drive gingerly through many intersections until power was restored late Wednesday morning.

The hail pummeled numerous communities, with balls of ice up to 2 inches in diameter falling in Eden Prairie and Edina, leaving cars with shattered windows and dented hoods. Several car dealerships reported hundreds of damaged cars on their lots.

State authorities Wednesday issued guidelines and safety tips for homeowners and businesses trying to clean up and repair their property. Essentially, they advised contacting the insurance company before hiring a contractor and taking photos to document any damage.

St. Louis Park resident Christopher Rubio did just that when he discovered that the wind had uprooted two massive trees in his yard, flattening his garage, ripping up his deck and damaging a corner of his house.

“I was sitting in the bay window in the front of the house watching the trees across the street bowing,” Rubio said. “[I] heard a loud explosion. … So I took a look out the back and see my deck 8 feet off the ground.”

Rubio said he contacted his insurance company and photographed the damage, and the company told him he could then have the trees removed from his yard.

Rubio said he expects the insurance company to cover the damage from the storm.

Standard homeowners insurance coverage will cover most losses from a windstorm or hail, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. However, most policies have deductibles that will apply. Coverage will usually cover the replacement cost for the damaged portion of a home, including upgrades required by local codes when damage is repaired.

Most contracts also cover the expense of debris removal from the home. This coverage is usually provided in addition to the policy limit restriction that applies to the repair of the damage to a home or garage.

As for storm damage to vehicles, if repair estimates are less than the value of the auto, the insurer will likely proceed to pay for the repairs.

The Eden Prairie Police Department tweeted a photo of a squad car that lost its rear window because of hail. Many hundreds of vehicles at the neighboring Suburban Chevrolet and Metropolitan Ford dealerships were left with dings or busted windows from the hail.

Eric Bjorgaard, general sales manager at Metropolitan Ford, said 500 or so of his vehicles were damaged, many with windshields and passenger windows obliterated. Windows and siding on the dealership building also took a pounding, he said.

A sales manager at Suburban Chevrolet said virtually all its vehicles were also heavily damaged, with many windows blown out.

Bjorgaard said his dealership has its insurance company surveying the damage and expects many vehicles will either be repaired or sold at a discount.

“There was no vehicle that went unscathed,” said Bjorgaard, who was at the dealership when the storm hit. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen. It sounded like shotguns being shot at us.”


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