Residents of the Lone Star State are fond of saying that everything is bigger in Texas, from football teams to marching bands, farmers’ markets to barbecue favorites. But a corollary to that oft-spoken refrain is everything is better in Texas as well. After all, the state was the second-most inbound location for families who moved in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and for eight consecutive years, Harris County maintained the distinction as the U.S. county with the most significant annual population growth.
All that being said, the storms that sweep through the Lone Star State are similarly noteworthy, both for the amount of destruction they cause, and the way in which residents and officials come together to help those affected recover.
Hailstorms are quite common in Texas. Last year, for example, was the costliest year for hail storms on record. Hail caused approximately $600 million in insured losses in Fort Worth and Arlington, both in homeowners insurance as well as Texas car insurance, Insurance Journal reported, citing estimates from the Insurance Council of Texas.
“More than 500,000 residents filed hail damage claims last year.”
Much like tornadoes, hail can develop any time of year, so there’s no singular season in which they’re necessarily more likely to occur. But in 2016, the spring saw multiple hail events. Nearly a half-million Texans filed insurance claims to address hail damage repair costs, Insurance Journal reported.
Mark Hanna, spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas, noted that the devastation caused by hail storms rivaled what severe hurricanes often leave in their wake.
“Only Hurricane Ike in 2008 caused more storm losses than last year’s hail storms,” Hanna referenced. “Hurricane Ike caused $12 billion in insured losses, making it the costliest storm in Texas history.”
Hail more common in North America than other parts of the world
While hail isn’t necessarily unique to Texas in particular – though storms do happen more often in the South than other parts of the country – they tend to be harsher in the U.S. than in other countries. Based on data collected by the Insurance Information Institute, eight of the 20 costliest natural disasters worldwide in 2015 involved hail, seven of which took place within the U.S. mainland. The only exception was a storm that struck Australia in April 2015, producing storm surge, hail, and flash flooding.
Already in 2017, Texas has seen several severe storms that produced hail. For instance, in late March in North Texas, hail stones the size of golf balls and softballs fell on residents and motorists, The Dallas Morning News reported. Garage doors and vehicle exteriors were left pockmarked with dents and dings of varying sizes. Only a couple of weeks later, North Texas was hit with another hail storm, causing numerous flight delays at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, WFAA reported.
On the bright side, the sheer frequency of these storms encourages Texan ingenuity at its finest.
Gunter resident and entrepreneur Michael Siciliano, for example, recently created an inflatable protection sheath called, appropriately, the Hail Protector. First reported by WFAA, the balloon-like contraption fits over the top of passenger vehicles, and extends accordion-style so it can protect the doors and undercarriage as well. Once inflated, the air pressure that builds deflects hail from scraping or denting exteriors or cracking windshields.
“I’ve just had vehicles that were damaged by hail and there was no solution on the market,” Gunter told WFAA. “And I figured it could solve it.”
The Hail Protector’s effectiveness has made it an overnight sensation among locals and Texas residents at large, sparing buyers from filing car insurance claims to repair hail damage.
Texas homeowners protected from unjustified premium increases
Homeowners bare the brunt of hail stone damage, with insured losses last year totaling in excess of $4 billion, according to the Insurance Council of Texas. Home insurance helps to offset the cost, but after filing a claim, policyholders often see their premiums rise. For Texas residents, however, this isn’t a concern. In fact, Texas is one of only two states – the other being Rhode Island – that earned a five-star rating from Rutgers University Law School. Legislation on the books in Texas prevents insurers from raising premiums improperly or from canceling policies, a practice often referred to as “Use It and Lose It.” Eighteen states don’t have any legislation that defend homeowners from Use It and Lose It procedures. Texas is one of two that does (the other being Maryland).
Elephant Auto Insurance is proud to provide our Texas-based policyholders with protection that they can trust and depend on. We strive to live up to the Texas tradition of big customer service and better coverage than our competitors.