JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hail storms can quickly cause thousands of dollars in damage to homes and vehicles around northeast Florida.
We saw it first-hand when a powerful storm hit our area March 23. Strong winds and damaging hail quickly moved into our area.
Neighbors in Lawtey tell Action News the system quickly limited how far you could see.
"It was raining so hard you couldn't see across the street. When the hail started, you couldn't see across the porch."
One home in particular experienced tremendous damage. Hail pelted the side of the home, shattering windows and punching holes into siding. No one was hurt inside, but damage is estimated at more than $20,000.
The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety says the the financial hit of hail damage is increasing.
"The total cost of hail is upward of about a billion dollars. That's billion with a 'B.' And unfortunately, it's growing every year," says Insurance Institute CEO Julie Rochman.
The Institute created a facility in South Carolina to get a better look at the impact of hail, and see how different materials hold up to hail storms.
In a controlled environment, they fire nine thousand pieces of hail at a home and vehicle in just minutes.
They found the metal roof held up better than the shingled side. Shattered shingles in a real home could lead to water seeping into a home.
Gutters took the brunt of damage. "To me that is the most surprising because it's a small target," said Ian Giammanco of the IBHS. "They got beat up pretty good."
The car parked next to the home also experienced severe damage, including a cracked windshield.
The institute hopes tests like these will help identify the best products to protect homes and vehicles from hail, and cut down on costs to families, and insurance companies.