That's the sound of a hailstone bouncing off your car, and quite possibly money bouncing out of your pocket as you pay the deductible for a hefty repair bill.
Hail is one of the most frequent causes of property damage – and that damage can be very expensive. Insurance company State Farm says hail cost its policyholders a whopping $2.4 billion in 2014.
Every state is at risk. The peak risk for hail damage typically occurs in spring, when the risk of severe thunderstorms is highest. Below are the 10 states most impacted by hail according to State Farm in 2014.
It is important to understand that there are a couple of factors that influence this list.
On one hand, the list is based on the total number of claims in each state, and solely claims from State Farm customers (82 million customers and accounts in 2014). As a result, states with large populations and large numbers of State Farm customers have an easier time making the top 10, simply because they have more insured property that can be damaged by hailstorms.
On the other hand, areas that typically see the most days with large hail are mainly in the central Plains. According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC), large hail (at least 1 inch in diameter) is most frequently observed across an area ranging from Denver to Rapid City, South Dakota, and east into parts of Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. (See inset map for details.) These areas, many of which are sparsely populated, average more than 10 days per year with reports of large hail within 25 miles of a given point based on data from 2003 to 2012.
The biggest insured losses happen when storms with very large hail – often baseball-size or larger – strike highly populated areas. Scroll down to see whether your state is in the top 10 states for hail claims, including both home and auto, in 2014 from State Farm.
Kansas is 10th on this list with 11,562 claims to State Farm due to hail in 2014. According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), Kansas had 742 reports of large hail during the year, the third highest number among all states in 2014.
9. South Dakota
South Dakota comes in at No. 9 with 12,367 claims due to hail. The state recorded 318 reports of large hail during the year. If you take into account population, South Dakota rises to first place when looking at just home claims with approximately one home damage claim due to hail for every 12 State Farm policyholders last year.
Iowa had 12,869 State Farm damage claims due to hail in 2014. The NCDC recorded 455 reports of large hail during the year; 22 of those events involved hail the size of baseballs or larger.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania surprisingly came in seventh on the list with 19,088 claims due to hail. Pennsylvania only recorded 126 reports of large hail during the year. However, Pennsylvania is the nation's sixth most populous state, so the odds are high that any given hailstorm will cross a populated area with plenty of cars to dent and roofs to damage.
6. South Carolina
South Carolina had 20,170 claims due to hail to State Farm in 2014. South Carolina had 118 reports of large hail during the year, fewer than any other state in the top 10. According to the SPC, most large hail reports usually occur in the Midlands and Upstate regions of the state, with the fewest reports along the coast.
Nebraska rounds out the top five. In 2014, 21,326 damage claims due to hail were noted. NCDC logged 781 reports of large hail, making it the state with the most large hail reports in 2014. On a per-capita basis, Nebraska was second only to South Dakota in the number of home hail damage claims per 1,000 policyholders in 2014.
Missouri comes in fourth with 23,019 claims due to hail to State Farm customers in 2014. Missouri had 350 reports of large hail during the year. Missouri is no stranger to costly storms. The second-costliest hailstorm in U.S. history raked across the state from Kansas City to St. Louis in 2001, doing some $2 billion in damage.
Colorado is in third place on the list with 42,365 claims due to hail. According to the SPC, Colorado saw 359 reports of large hail during the year, with the majority of it observed in the eastern half of the state. The Front Range urban corridor from Colorado Springs to Denver and Fort Collins is notorious for damaging hailstorms, several of which have topped $1 billion in damage in recent years.
Illinois is second on the list as 43,821 damage claims due to hail were reported in 2014. Illinois had a relatively modest 197 reports of large hail during the year – but Illinois has just under 13 million residents, fifth among all states, leaving plenty of homes and vehicles in the potential path of hailstorms.
Texas tops the list of damage claims in 2014. State Farm received 51,193 claims and Texas reported 778 accounts of large hail during the year, second only to Nebraska for 2014. According to Verisk Analytics, Texas led the nation in average annual hail losses from 2000 to 2013. Given the large population of the state and the considerable number of large hail reports, it is no surprise that Texas is first again in 2014.
Home Claims Per Capita
It is important to take in account population, because when you look at the information per capita, the results are different. When the home hail claims (excludes vehicle claims) were compared to the number of customers with homeowner policies, the top three states are:
South Dakota (87 claims per 1,000 policies)
Nebraska (79 claims per 1,000 policies)
Colorado (56 claims per 1,000 policies).
It is important to take severe weather alerts seriously. Remember that it takes only one big event to impact your area and cause substantial damage to vehicles and homes.