SYDNEY car owners are counting the cost after violent hail storms struck the region over the weekend.
Images flooded social media over the weekend as people reported cricket ball-sized hailstones raining down and wreaking havoc in western Sydney and Wollongong. Many showed cars pockmarked with dents and sporting large holes in windscreens and rear windows.
Late yesterday, the ABC reported more than 12,000 claims relating to storm damage had already flooded in. Insurer Suncorp said it was still too early to comment on the extent of the damage.
But it wasn’t just privately owned cars that felt the brunt. At least one new car showroom was also facing a large damage bill.
Hyundai said one of its worst affected car yards was around Pennant Hills, north-west of Sydney.
“Pennant Hills Hyundai got hit hard,” Hyundai Australia public relations general manager Bill Thomas said. “Every car has some degree of damage.”
Mercedes-Benz and Kia both said they were not aware of any storm-related damage to their Sydney-based showroom inventory.
Sydney is no stranger to wild, damaging storms. In 1999, a wild front struck the eastern part of the city creating what would turn out to be the costliest natural disaster to ever hit Australia.
That storm alone dropped the equivalent of half a million tonnes of hailstones one measured about 9cm in diameter and damaged about 40,000 vehicles, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Insurance claims eventually totalled around $1.7 billion.
Hail damage creates a few headaches for new-car buyers keen to pick up a bargain, even if it is just cosmetic. Insurers don’t like hail-damaged cars, and will often refuse to cover them with comprehensive coverage, meaning owners will not have any financial safety net to fall on if they are involved in a crash.
Anyone buying a hail-damaged car as a repairable write-off should make sure they know how much it will cost to fix the damage, and factor that into the price they pay.