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According to the National Weather Service, there were
7,031 hailstorms reported in the U.S. in 2012. So what do you do if you have a shiny new car and live in Texas, which reported more events than any other state?
You make sure you have the right insurance. You watch the skies and run for cover. You park in a garage, or under a carport. You buy
a padded cover.
Or you buy an airbag.
Gunter, Texas, resident Michael Siciliano is the inventor of the Hail Protector, an external airbag that inflates to cover and protect cars from hail damage.
"Living in North Texas, I looked around and all I was seeing were padded covers, which were bulky and weren't protecting entire vehicles," Siciliano says. "The Hail Protector is portable, packs up small, and is fully inflated in five minutes."
Is hail a problem for you?
Hailstorms peak in March, April and May.
"Some of the most significant natural disasters have occurred in the last decade," says Michael Barry, vice president of media relations for the
Insurance Information Institute, "and some of these have involved hail."
In Texas, hailstorms can occur almost any time, says Pablo Moreno, an insurance agent with the Texas Insurance Agency in Houston.
"Houston's a subtropical climate, so we have various types of weather that causes hailstorms to happen different times of the year," he says.
2012 hailstorms by state
The Highway Loss Data Institute says approximately 250,000 cars are damaged by hail every year in the United States alone. Hailstorms are also a prime source of
suspicious claims, the National Insurance Crime Bureau says.
Are you covered if your car is damaged by hail?
You're covered for hail damage only if you've purchased
comprehensive coverage, sometimes referred to as "other than collision," which also covers hazards including vandalism and theft. Of course, you'll have to first pay the deductible on your insurance policy.
Hailstorm insurance claims typically run from $800 to $1,000, Moreno says. But many repairs cost less than the customer's deductible, he says, meaning a lot of damage goes unreported to insurance companies.