ACT News


Wild hail storm damages car yards with insurance claims set to rise

Small businesses and residents in Queanbeyan have spent hours cleaning up after a severe storm that tore through the region on Thursday night, bringing hail as large as golf balls.

One car salesman in Queanbeyan, who declined to be named, said staff and management were distraught after their cars were damaged by the hail.

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Storms hit Southern Tablelands

Fairfax photographer Nick Moir braves the elements to shoot cloud formations and large hail as the towns of Gunning and Taralga cop a drenching.

"We are in the process of getting the damage assessed at the moment but everyone in Queanbeyan got hail damage on Thursday night," he said.

The storm, which only lasted close to an hour on Thursday evening, caused dramas for businesses across the region with the roof of Woolworths in Queanbeyan partially collapsing.

Pubs and supermarkets were also left without power in Canberra's north with staff lighting candles for patrons sheltering from the rain.

Queanbeyan State Emergency Services responded to more than 150 calls for help after the storm, with management urging residents to be patient. 


"We're just asking Queanbeyan to be a little bit patient today as we deal with the results of last night's storm," SES public officer Brent Hunter said.

"As you can imagine we're quite busy, and we are working through it as quickly as possible.

Car yards in the Canberra region have had a difficult few weeks with a ferocious storm on January 25 damaging vehicles, which prompted a spike in insurance claims.

NRMA Insurance received more than 1034 claims for cars damaged in the storm with AAMI Insurance also reporting an increase in claims.  

Motor Trades Association ACT president Michael Burke said many car owners were confused about their rights and options after discovering hail damage.

"While Insurers are able to provide advice on available repairers in their area, they cannot direct a consumer to use any particular repairer unless they have agreed to this when taking up a policy."

Mr Burke said motorists should check the policy disclosure statements of their insurers and only use local repairers who are fully licensed in the ACT.

"Regardless if your insurer insists you go to their repairer for assessment, we advise you to go to your preferred local repairer beforehand to make sure your rights are considered and repairs are conducted to industry standards," he said.

Weatherzone meteorologist Kim Westcott said there was a chance of more thunderstorms on Sunday and Monday although they would not be as destructive as Thursday night's conditions.

"There is a chance of a storm on Sunday afternoon although it may be to the east of Canberra," she said. "It's a similar story on Monday too as a low pressure trough connects with a cold front bringing showers and thunder."