'Pummeled': Timaru hailstorm causes havoc for car owners

Thousands of vehicles have been damaged beyond repair and are failing warrants after egg-sized hailstones rained down on Timaru. 

"The scale of it in Timaru is almost overwhelming you walk down the street and almost every car has been pummeled with hail," HVS Motors Timaru owner Hamish Gardyne said.

Although Gardyne has insurance, he was told 175 of his cars are 'total losses'.

"We got some wing mirrors, windscreens damaged, spoilers and tail lights broken, it's got to be pretty hefty to smash a windscreen with a ball of ice."

Gardyne says although most of the damage is predominantly cosmetic, any vehicle worth less than $15,000 won't be worth fixing.

New vehicles are also a problem because they can't be marketed as new if they've been hail damaged and then repaired.  

Tim Grafton, CEO of New Zealand's Insurance Council told Newshub insurers have responded by flying in experts from right around the country and even from overseas to do paintless dent repairs on hail damaged vehicles. 

Norfolk Motors Owner John Geels says he's no longer able to sell his hail-damaged cars for offers. He's decided it's too risky because some drivers are now struggling to get warrants. 

"People won't be able to get their cars fixed for some time and they won't be able to drive them if they can't get a warrant of fitness."

The NZTA has told warrant of fitness providers they must ensure the hailstorm hasn't weakened the structural integrity of a vehicle, leaving it more vulnerable if involved in a crash.

Grafton told Newshub it is very rare for hail damage to mean that a vehicle has had structural damage.

The Insurance Council says it will take months to work through all of the hail-damaged cars.

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