by Chris Tobin
Obtaining information and assessing damage from a devastating hailstorm which hammered Timaru and environs around noon last Wednesday will take about six weeks.
Golf ball-sized hailstones left a trail of destruction, pummelling hundreds of motor vehicles, smashing windows, puncturing spouting and gutters and damaging crops.
“When we have an event such as this we put out a call to members to report the number of claims by type and the value of the claims,” Insurance Council of New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said.
“It takes six weeks to provide information and assess the damage and losses.
“All we know at this stage is there’s a large number of claims coming in.”
He said the information would be available in January and other media reports which stated they had been deluged was not accurate.
Hailstorm insurance claims were made every year but the Timaru hailstorm was “a relatively rare event” and hundreds of cars would have to be assessed to find if the damage was repairable.
One Timaru car dealer said it had been a disaster for the industry.
Dealers were reluctant to speak to the media.
The day after the storm Brown and Shipman panelbeaters co-owner Michell Shaw said the company had received more than 1000 claims, with the phone ringing non-stop.
Her partner and fellow co-owner Jim Bracefield said so many vehicles had been damaged insurance companies would have to set up “hail shops” and truck them to Christchurch.
Crops along the coast took a pounding.
South Canterbury Federated Farmers arable section chairman Leo Gaffaney, who farmed at Seadown, said he was lucky but others were not so fortunate.
Allan Millar, a farmer at at Waipopo, said his potatoes, grain and pea crops were all affected but he hadn’t written them off.
“One paddock of spuds look a bit iffy; we should know about that in the next day or so.”
He said it had been the worst hailstorm in the area since 1960.
Waipopo Orchards, the biggest apple grower in South Canterbury, was another that did not come out unscathed.
Manager Andrew Forward said two of its four orchards had been hit but he did not want to elaborate.