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Hailstorms across San Antonio area costliest in US history

ICOT: Combined losses total more than $2 billion

SAN ANTONIO – The combined losses from three devastating hailstorms within a month in the San Antonio area totaled over $2 billion, the most in U.S. history, according to the Insurance Council of Texas.

“The insurance companies are lumping all of these together as one catastrophe, but you can’t call it one storm,” said Mark Hanna, spokesman for the council.  

Hanna said the first hailstorm on April 12 -- which pounded Helotes before hitting the northern parts of San Antonio, was definitely the costliest storm in Texas history with losses of $1.36 billion.

Hanna said that’s not counting yet any damage to commercial properties.

“We’re basically a war zone right now, just trying to handle all the claims,” Hanna said.

Hanna said the storms have lured scam artists seeking out vulnerable consumers, and created ways for people trying to defraud the insurance industry.

One example includes people trying to re-create hail damage. “They’ve actually hit their car with a hammer or whatever,” Hanna said.

Roger Morris, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said his agency is warning consumers to beware of unscrupulous contractors.

“If you didn’t request it, reject it,” Morris said. “If somebody comes to your door, be leery of them.”

Morris said he recommends getting multiple bids and make sure they’re members of an association such as the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas.

The Better Business Bureau also has a listing of roofing contractors while the City of San Antonio also can serve as a clearinghouse.

Rod Sanchez, director of developmental services, said every contractor must register with the city before they’re allowed to begin work.

“That’s our only way of holding these contractors accountable, if they’re registered and if they’re pulling permits,” Sanchez said.

Besides doing criminal background checks, Sanchez said the city can even step in if necessary.

“They do a bad job, we can actually go in there and make them fix it, do it and right,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said if not, the city can pull their registration so they’re no longer allowed to work in San Antonio.

Sanchez added consumers should check the city’s website to verify the contractor is registered and pulling the necessary permits.

Sanchez warned that a contractor asking the homeowner to pull permits should be a red flag, meaning they’re probably not registered with the city.

Morris urges consumers to be patient and do their homework before hiring anyone.

“It’s better to wait and have a blue tarp on your roof for a while than have all your money gone,” Morris said.