Hail claims up 84% since 2010, NICB says

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Insurance claims from hail damage have increased an astounding 84 percent since 2010, reports the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported Wednesday.

While homeowners filed the greatest number of claims, auto policy claims are rising at the fastest rate, the NICB reported , multiplying more than six fold from 2010 to 2012. That's at least partly because there has been a 19 percent increase in the number of hailstorms, according to the National Weather Service, and partly because storms are doing greater damage. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported two storms in 2010 with damage greater than $1 billion, adjusted for inflation. In 2012, it recorded seven.

While hail rarely renders a car undriveable, it can easily total a car with broken glass and dents across every body panel.

The average auto insurance claim from a hailstorm is about $3,100, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. But many repairs cost less than the customer's deductible and thus remain unreported to insurance companies. (See " Hail damage claims: What you need to know .")

Drivers aren't covered for hail damage unless they maintain comprehensive coverage , and even then only for the amount of damage beyond their chosen deductible. (Hail is among the most common suspicious claims as well.)

Comprehensive is usually the cheapest part of your policy, and if you live in a state with more than a few hail events a year (virtually all states except Alaska and Hawaii) it's probably worth the peace of mind. If you live in Texas, which routinely records an outsized number of hailstorms every year, it's a must.

Also in the top 10: Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Personal Finance , Insurance

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