The freak hailstorm that struck McAllen, Texas, two weeks ago, pelting homes and cars with golf ball- and baseball-sized chunks of ice, knocked Jaz Dent into July.
July 16, to be exact.
The dent repair shop at 1411-C West Ferguson Ave., where business already was steady, now has work lined up until mid-July and isn't accepting new vehicles, said owner Juan Zuniga. Other auto repair shops, especially those offering windshield and glass replacement, remain swamped with damaged cars nearly two weeks after the hailstorm.
"As long as you didn't get windshield cracks -- that's what I tell people -- there's no rush," Zuniga said. For the best deal, Zuniga advised shopping around and waiting until the storm of dinged and dented cars blows over.
By Tuesday, State Farm had received more than 3,000 auto claims and more than 2,800 homeowner claims resulting from the hailstorm. While Allstate didn't have a preliminary estimate for storm claims, the insurance giant experienced a "significant spike" and dispatched a catastrophe team to the Rio Grande Valley, said spokeswoman Kristen Beaman.
"We are asking our customers to try and file their claims as promptly as possible," Beaman said. If they haven't already, drivers should document and photograph any damage before making temporary repairs.
Many of the hardest-hit cars suffered $8,000 to $9,000 in damage, Allstate Agent John R. Terry said.
Insurance companies generally consider "totaling out" vehicles with damage exceeding 80 percent of the book value, but the amount and process vary by insurer, he said.
"It's just going to depend on the age and the model of the vehicle," Terry said.
Meanwhile, drivers with non-catastrophic damage have flooded glass and windshield repair shops, creating long waits.
At Glass Etc. on North 23rd Street, one woman walked out after hearing about the wait. Moises Merino, 38, said he figured the storm would create a rush, so he waited a week to fix his passenger-side mirror.
"It got busted last week with the hail," Merino said. "But I didn't call right away because they were very busy."
While the repair would cost only $20, it would take about a day, a clerk told Merino, because the shop was busy. Merino left.
Not all glass shops have been swamped.
The lobby at Crack Master, 3114 N. 23rd St., was empty Tuesday afternoon. Owner Xavier Ordonez said plenty of people had called, but the shop handles only repairs and not replacements.
"Especially in this area, which got hit pretty hard, there were more replacements than repairs," Ordonez said, but calls probably jumped by 70 percent after the storm.
Those lucky enough to escape the storm should consider talking with an insurance agent anyway, Beaman said.
"It's not a question of when we're going to get severe weather here," Beaman said, talking about extreme weather in Texas. "It's just when, what type and where."
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