An Aug. 6 storm that battered southwest Colorado Springs and Fountain with up to softball-size hail caused $172.8 million in damage to vehicles, roofs, siding, windows, skylights and other parts of homes, an insurance trade group said Wednesday.
The total is the second highest on record for the Colorado Springs area, slightly exceeding the $169 million in damage from a June 13 hailstorm that also hit Fountain. Both events, however, trailed the July 2016 storm that caused $352.8 million in damage to vehicles, homes and other property. Last week’s storm ranks as Colorado’s 14th most expensive hailstorm.
“The size and amount of hail that battered Colorado Springs is unfortunately part of a pattern of catastrophic events the state has been experiencing during the past several years, so we need to be financially prepared for the unexpected — check your insurance to know what it covers, what it doesn’t and when you need it most,” Carole Walker, the association’s executive director, said in a news release.
The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association said insurers have received 21,000 claims on vehicles totaling $126.3 million and 6,000 claims on homes and other properties totaling $46.5 million.
More than half of those claims — 15,000 — were filed with San Antonio-based financial giant USAA, which insures active-duty and former military personnel and their families and operates a large regional office in the Springs. The company is still operating three mobile claims centers in southern Colorado Springs, manned by 130 employees brought in the handle the flurry of claims.
USAA also received 16,500 claims from the June 13 storm and brought in 117 additional employees to handle them. Company spokesman Richard Johnson said the back-to-back hailstorms in southern Colorado Springs won’t necessarily trigger rate increases.
“We base our rates on longer-term trends, not one event or season, whether from hail or wildfire,” Johnson said. “We look at general trends over several years and risk in a particular area as we set rates.”
The storm also inflicted extensive damage to buildings and vehicles at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, killing five animals and forcing the zoo to remain closed for five days to make repairs.
By comparison, a hailstorm in northern Colorado in June triggered $276.4 million in claims. The state’s most damaging storm, which hit metro Denver in May 2017, drew claims totaling $2.3 billion.
The numbers are based on a survey of insurers and only cover claims on individual vehicle or residential policies; damage to commercial or government vehicles and buildings, including the zoo, is not part of the estimate.
Colorado vehicle insurance rates have been surging in recent years, according to a nationwide study by The Zebra, an insurance search engine. The state’s average premium jumped 52 percent to $1,435 — the third-fastest growth after Montana and Mississippi — between 2011 and 2017, but the state’s average was just $8 more than the nationwide average last year, the study found.
Walker said this year’s series of hailstorms will fuel future rate increases, but she doubts any insurers will pull out of Colorado, which she added still has “a good mix of insurers.”
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