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'THE SKY IS FALLING,' HOME, CAR INSURER REPORTS

 'THE SKY IS FALLING,' HOME, CAR INSURER REPORTS
 BLOOMINGTON, Ill., July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicken Little may have


had it right. Or at least there are a million or more car and home owners in a 12 state area who are thinking he did.
 The reason: Hail!
 And more hail!
 "It's unlike anything we've ever seen," says Frank Haines who's had to deal with the unprecedented outbreak of ice falling from the sky.
 Haines is claims vice president for State Farm Insurance, a company that insures about one out of five homes and cars in the hard-hit states.
 So far this summer, State Farm has looked at and paid more than a quarter-million hail claims -- with a total dollar tab of more than $600 million. Projecting from those figures, the industry as a whole probably is dealing with more than a million claims worth a couple of billion dollars.
 Much of the damage occurred in heavily populated areas, including Fort Worth, Texas; Orlando, Fla.; Kansas City and Wichita, Kan.
 The Fort Worth storm, on April 28, resulted in nearly 90,000 claims for an estimated $230 million made to State Farm. That's a record for one hailstorm for the company. The previous high was a $180 million payout for a 1990 storm in Denver.
 It also ranks as the third most costly catastrophe of any kind for the company, ranking only behind Hurricane Hugo in 1989 ($450 million) and the Oakland, Calif., fires in 1991 ($365 million).
 Recent hail bombardments hit Wichita, Kan., Colorado Springs, Colo., and parts of at least five other states. State Farm expects to take care of up to $120 million in customer claims on those.
 Other major hail damage this year includes $152 million in two storms, two weeks apart, in Orlando, Fla., and a $70 million outburst in Kansas City.
 "It's hard to say whether there's more hail this year or if it's just falling where more people live," says Haines. "The weird thing about hailstorms is that, except for the people directly affected, nobody pays much attention to them.
 "If we had a $230 million hurricane or tornado, the national media would be all over the place.
 "But," Haines concludes, "hail is just sort of a quiet catastrophe... unless it happens to fall on you."
 -0- 7/1/92
 /CONTACT: Jerry Parsons of State Farm Insurance, 309-766-6103/ CO: State Farm Insurance ST: Illinois IN: INS SU:


KD -- NY114 -- 5919 07/01/92 17:16 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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