Ice from the skies

The hail­storms that dam­aged thou­sands of cars in KZN were not the worst, nor the last

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

WHILE ter­rific, the re­cent hail­storms over KZN’s cap­i­tal were not the worst as­ses­sors had seen; and the good news is car own­ers who need to get quotes for re­pairs still have a few weeks to do so.

Jack Call­away, owner of KZN In­sur­ance As­ses­sors who used to own a panel beater shop in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, ad­vised car own­ers who suf­fered dam­age to get emer­gency re­pairs, like wind­screens, done as soon as pos­si­ble, but added as long as they had no­ti­fied their in­sur­ance com­pany within a three days they had a claim pending, they could wait a cou­ple of weeks be­fore get­ting quotes for the re­main­der of the re­pair work.

“But the job won’t get any cheaper af­ter the rush,” he warned.

Call­way, who is a mem­ber of the In­sti­tute of Mo­tor As­s­esors in South Africa, said if the re­pair value ex­ceed 70% of the car’s re­tail value, the in­surer will typ­i­cally write the car off.

Pi­eter­mar­itzburg is not alone in suf­fer­ing huge hail storms. The en­tire edge of the es­carp­ment along the eastern seaboard gets hail this time of the year. This is good news for panel beat­ers in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, who were still quot­ing to re­pair hail dam­age from Jan­uary when the heav­ens sent down a sec­ond fusil­lade of enor­mous hail stones on Fri­day, Fe­bru­ary 6.

Un­like the first storm, which had caused ex­ten­sive dam­age to the area around the UKZN cam­pus, this sec­ond hail storm erupted over the cen­tre of town, hit­ting the car deal­er­ships es­pe­cially hard.

Hyundai’s re­gional direc­tor in KZN, Gideon Janse van Rens­burg, told Wheels the deal­er­ship in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg suf­fered hail dam­age to some 40 ve­hi­cles.

At Mercedes- Benz, more than 100 cars were nicked or ham­mered. At BMW, two dozen new Beemers suf­fered dents and at Honda, new cars fresh off the truck got hit.

Thou­sands of pri­vate mo­torists also had their cars dented, lights cracked and wind­screens or sun­roofs smashed.

Polling the panel beat­ers in KNZ’s cap­i­tal on Mon­day, we wit­nessed as queues of impatient mo­torists streamed into town to get quotes to re­place lights and wind­screens.

Sweat­ing staff walked the pave­ments in the 33 Cel­sius heat to col­lect quotes, most say­ing they had av­er­aged over 300 quotes per per­son for the day.

By noon they were us­ing blank fo­lio pages to jot down e- mails, this be­ing quicker than fill­ing in the pro- forma forms.

Su­nita Har­ri­lall from Auto Hail Raven panel beat­ers on Boom Street es­ti­mated it would take up to June to re­pair the dam­age from this sec­ond storm, not count­ing the dam­age from the ear­lier hail storm.

“It can take about 10 days to re­pair a car, if no pan­els have to be cut and bonded or — in spe­cial cases — welded. I es­ti­mate it is go­ing to take our in­dus­try four, maybe five months to re­pair the thou­sands of cars that were hit in the two storms,” she said.

At Dent Boss on Greyling Street, peo­ple were pa­tiently wait­ing their turn for a quote on the red car seats mounted in the foyer. Phones were ring­ing off the hook as the staff worked their way down the line.

All were war­ily watch­ing as cu­mu­lonim­bus clouds sent hot, moist air at speeds up to 176 km/ h ver­ti­cally into the su­per- cooled blue skies along the es­carp­ment, where the wa­ter will con­dense into yet an­other fusil­lade of ice from the skies.

Car own­ers must no­tify their in­sur­ance com­pany within three days of a pending claim, then get wind­screens re­paired as soon as pos­si­ble, but have a cou­ple of weeks to get have the re­pair work done.

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

Typ­i­cal hail dam­age to a car’s back wind­screen in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg from the storm last week.

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