Stephen and Elizabeth Beyer had their new roof two weeks before Thursday's hailstorm left it battered and in need of replacement once more. 

Add to the list damaged house siding, screens and three broken skylights, and Elizabeth doesn't even want to think about the total loss. The 34-year homeowners filed their insurance claim the day after the storm but are still waiting for a full assessment.

So are thousands of others in Colorado Springs.

Insurance companies are so inundated with claims they have opened new sites around the city. Body shops are booking repairs as far out as December.

All are asking customers to be patient after what has been categorized as a "catastrophe"-level storm.

"We've got to; it's not a choice," Elizabeth conceded. "We're just waiting now."

Claims began rolling in almost immediately after what some have termed a "hail bomb," which pelted the south and northeastern parts of the city with tennis-ball-sized hail. Windows of cars and homes were smashed, vehicle hoods were dimpled, roofs were beaten, less durable property was shredded, plants and trees were ripped apart.

The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association isn't ready to release figures estimating how much the storm cost in damage - that could come next week - but they "know it will be a significant event," spokeswoman Carole Walker said.

Companies are receiving a "flood of claims," she said.

While insurance companies designate "catastrophes" based on volume, the association gives the designation when weather events do more than $25 million in damage.

That figure can be easy to reach in Colorado, which is ranked second behind Texas for hail damage claims nationwide, Walker said.

Based on the number of claims the area's top insurance companies have reported, Colorado Springs is earning the ranking.

USAA, which insures 11.5 million military members and their families nationwide, has processed 15,000 claims in Colorado Springs since Thursday, spokesman Richard Johnson said. Roughly 10,000 of them were auto claims, the rest by homeowners.

In addition to its 1855 Telstar Drive office, USAA has set up a mobile location in the parking lot of the Powers Boulevard J.C. Penney Co. to help handle the load.

"The last time we rolled out this kind of response in this area was . for the wildfires," Johnson said.

State Farm has received about 2,520 homeowner claims and 5,290 auto claims since the storm, spokeswoman Ann Avery said. The company tracks figures only statewide, but Avery said they know much of the damage was around the Colorado Springs area.

They've added a drive-in claim center at the Home Depot at 102 N. Academy Blvd. Appointments are encouraged, Avery said.

The turnaround for cashing in on those claims is pretty fast, sometimes just a few days after filing. That's normal, Walker said.

Often, hail damage is straightforward, allowing some companies to cut checks "on the spot," she said.

Getting the damage fixed, however, may take a little longer.

Repair supplies are likely to be low and lines are already forming, Johnson said.

A call to DMI Collision Center on Tuesday immediately rolled over to a voicemail message from the owner telling listeners that if they've reached the machine it means DMI has "maxed out the phone line." Customers were encouraged to leave a message.

Jake Schroeder, who owns Five Star Hail, said some body shops are booked up through November and even into December.

Messages left with a host of other repair shops went unanswered amid the rush of inquiring customers.

Officials hope the long waits don't drive customers into the arms of scammers promising low bids and fast work.

Big business for local companies also means "boom business for scammers," Walker said.

"I've heard from some people they've had half a dozen or more roofers coming to their house and wanting them to sign a contract," Walker said.

Diana Lew fended off one scammer Tuesday.

The caller claimed to be working with her USAA adjuster, whom they identified by name, and set up an appointment for 8 p.m. The real adjuster was pulling in Lew's driveway, she said.

The Colorado Springs Police Department encourages residents to report suspected scams so that others may be warned. Residents can call 444-7000 to make a report.

Officials also are urging customers to work with their insurance companies to identify preferred contractors. Customers also can vet their contractor with the Better Business Bureau and the National Roofing Contractors Association.

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Contact Kaitlin Durbin: 636-0362

Twitter: @njKaitlinDurbin

Facebook: Kaitlin Durbin

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Kaitlin is a public safety reporter with a focus on investigations. She is a proud Ohioan, champion for local libraries, volunteer reading tutor and an expert ice cream connoisseur (mint chocolate chip!). She joined the Gazette in 2016.

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