Texas Hailstorms May Cost Insurers Record $2 Billion

Storms that pummeled a Dallas-area highway and residences with hail last week may lead to $2 billion in home and auto claims, an insurance-industry trade group said.

Sandra Helin, president of the Southwestern Insurance Information Service, said the cost of claims may be driven by damage to older homes. She said the storms may bring 60,000 auto claims and “tens of thousands” from homeowners.

“This didn’t hit in ranch area,” Helin said today in a telephone interview. “It was right in the suburbs, and then it hit an area with a significant number of historic homes. You can’t find tiles for some of those roofs anymore.”

The hailstorms struck on June 13, damaging cars during rush hour on the Dallas Central Expressway. The previous record for insured damage from hail in the state was $1.1 billion in 1995, according to the Insurance Council of Texas.

The Insurance Council, an Austin-based industry trade group, issued preliminary estimates for insured losses from last week’s storm at just $900 million, up from $800 million earlier today. About 50,000 auto and 20,000 homeowner claims have been reported so far, said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the council.

“How many more come in, well, that’s the million-dollar question right now,” Hanna said. Adjusters are still assessing damage, he said.

The costliest storm of any kind to hit Texas was Hurricane Ike in 2008 with about $12 billion in claims, according to the insurance Council.

Companies including Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. residential insurer, have sought to boost returns on homeowners’ coverage by raising rates and changing policies to take into account the age of roofs.

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