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PHOTOS: Hail-damaged vehicles flood area body shops

This early model van rests at Stewart’s Body Shop awaiting an adjuster to inspect its damage from a hail storm in Jackson, Miss. on Monday, March 19, 2013.

A 2010 Nissan, heavily damaged by Monday’s hail storm, had its rear window knocked out and suffered several hundred dents. The car was awaiting repair at Beall’s Body Shop in Hazlehurst.

Commuters from Copiah County suffered a great deal of hail damage during Monday’s storms, say local body shop owners.  Hail storms hit Hinds and Rankin counties the hardest around rush hour, when many local residents who work in those areas were just about to head home from work.
“We are swamped with them,” said Michael Jackson of Beall’s Body Shop in Hazlehurst.  Jackson said they started arriving Tuesday morning and many older vehicles have been totaled.  “Most of the ’05s and older vehicles just aren’t worth fixing, so the insurance companies are totaling them out,” he said.
At Stewart’s Body Shop of Hazlehurst, technicians were busy repairing dents on a couple of cars.  Several more damaged vehicles had already arrived, and one claims adjuster was on site.
“We’ve had a few come in.   A couple are damaged so much that they’ll probably be totaled,” said owner Carey Stewart.
Terry Pendley, an agent with Old South Insurance Co. of Hazlehurst, said he had processed nearly a dozen claiims and was expecting more.  “With as many of our customers who work in that area, we have fielded many calls about hail damage,” Pendley said.
Some of the drivers are putting the cart before horse in the claims process and erroneously calling area body shops first for estimates.  As with any claim, those covered by insurance should contact their agent to begin the claims process, which may include repair to vehicle.  “We are always happy to answer questions, and of course, we want the business.  But, we advise those with hail-damaged vehicles to contact their insurance agent first,” Jackson said.
The storms, which somehow missed Copiah County, were the worst in the region since a major hail storm in spring of 2005 hit many parts of the county.  In the aftermath of that one, several temporary dent repair services set up shop in cooperation with local auto body repair places to make repairs.  “We probably won’t see those guys this time.  They will be in the Hinds County and McComb areas (which also endured a heavy hail storm on Monday evening.)” Jackson said.
More storms are forecast for this weekend, says the National Weather Service.

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