Business at local insurance agencies and auto body repair shops was brisk in March after a hail storm that passed over parts of Brazos Valley, TX, on March 18 caused damage to homes and vehicles.
Burleson County received the brunt of the damage, with Caldwell residents taking to social media with photographs of large chunks of hail. While there have been no injuries reported, the same can't be said of homes, businesses and vehicles.
Dan McElroy, a shop manager of Caldwell's Auto Frame & Body Works, said the small family business saw a significant uptick in customers that week.
"We've had about 15 cars in here, many with windows blown out, things like that," he said March 20.
Windows and windshields were shattered, frames were dented and in some cases, entire roof panels needed replacing. Some vehicles' damage was so extensive that the replacement of entire pieces was recommended.
"It was incredible," McElroy said. "I've lived here a long time, and I've never seen anything like this before."
McElroy noted that insurance adjusters from various agencies were stopping by frequently to take stock of their clients' cars. At Anco Insurance in Bryan, claims manager Oliver Sims confirmed that adjusters' plates were full that week.
"We've reported easily five times the number of claims that we usually do," he said March 20. "We're seeing cars, personal property, commercial property."
Most of these claims came from either Caldwell or Bryan-College Station. Hail and heavy winds also caused damage in Huntsville, so Anco assisted customers there as well. There were more reports of vehicular damage than structural damage, he said. But roofs on homes had been battered, resulting in leaks, as had sky lights.
Isaac Lopez, a Farmers Insurance agent in Caldwell, said on March 20 that his office received, in that one day alone, the amount of claims normally dealt with over five months.
"I stopped counting claims after around the number 50," he said.
Farmers Insurance has not, as of March 21, classified the storm as a catastrophe, and Lopez said his branch would be able to handle the heavy workload. Lopez advised those whose property received damage to call their insurance agents immediately. He explained that a person's insurance agent will help them decide, based on their policy, whether the damage to their home or vehicle is worth filing a claim. In some instances, he said that filing a claim might financially burden a customer in the future, as there can be negative consequences of filing too many weather-related claims.