Summer hailstorms could mean higher insurance premiums

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DENVER -- Monday's giant hailstorm in Colorado Springs didn't just take a toll on people in its path, it has the potential to impact all of us when it comes to insurance premiums.

Colorado ranks second nationally when it comes to hail insurance claims, trailing only Texas.

Premiums in Colorado have risen 54 percent in the past six years.

Michael Dunwoody is the owner of Extreme Autoworks in Denver. He said he's seen a lot of hail damaged cars in his shop this summer, even before the big storm in Colorado Springs.

"We're still working on ones from last year. We're on the last two or three. I don't even want to know where we are this year. I can't even keep count anymore," said Dunwoody.

Dunwoody says he used to see 50 to 100 hail-damaged cars a year. Last year, it was more than 300.

Carole Walker is with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, which tracks insurance trends.

She said there's a reason premiums are so high in Colorado. What is different this year is the size of the hail stones accompanying some of the storms.

The National Weather Service is investigating reports of grapefruit-sized hailstones from Monday's storm. That is hail at least 4.5 inches in diameter.

The last time Colorado had confirmed hailstones that large was in 2011.

"The size of the hail is a real game changer for us," Walker said. "We are just topping the list of every list you don't want to be on in Colorado. That includes hail insurance claims, the growth in our state, and fatal accidents."

Claims from Monday's storm are still being totaled, but as of Tuesday morning, insurance group USAA was already reporting 8,000.

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