Ice from the skies
The hailstorms that damaged thousands of cars in KZN were not the worst, nor the last
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.
Typical hail damage to a car’s back windscreen in Pietermaritzburg from the storm last week.