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After the hail storm comes the deluge of insurance claims

USAA handing many claims virtually amid COVID-19 concerns

SAN ANTONIO – It was a messy morning on Thursday after a noisy night.

“It was loud, really loud,” said Bill Centeno, whose Churchill Estate home took a pounding.

Hail that was nearly the size of golf balls walloped neighborhoods in the storm’s path.

“Hail was coming down rapidly, hitting hard,” said Patty Centeno. “We thought the windows were going to break.”

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The windows held, but three towering trees fell like dominoes.

“It hammered the roof pretty good,” Bill Centeno said.

They expect some dings to their wallet, too. So the first thing they did was call their insurance carrier, State Farm.

After the skies calmed, insurance claims poured in. USAA alone saw more than 4,500 claims come in by mid-afternoon Thursday.

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Many of those were filed online or through the company’s app, which the San Antonio-based company encourages because it is more efficient.

Adjusters will be sent to see properties as needed, but there’s a good chance the policyholder won’t need to see the adjuster.

“We have, actually, through this COVID(-19) crisis, gone to a lot of virtual estimating,” said Jim Syring, president of USAA Property and Casualty Group. “We can do it all online through photos and digitally.”

For roof claims, USAA resorts to high-flying technology.

“We would at some point in the future be able to fly a drone over your roof and see it that way,” Syring said.

In the meantime, he recommends people make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, such as covering a broken window with plastic. Keep all receipts for materials, and document any damage with photos or video.

Be on the lookout for fraudulent repair people who seem to come out of the woodwork when severe weather strikes.

“Be skeptical,” Syring said. “Be wary of anyone who asks for large sums of money upfront.”

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As for the Centenos, they are glad that the storm damage wasn’t worse. So far, they know of only the three ravaged trees.

“And two scared dogs,” Bill Centeno said.


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