MOBILE, Ala. (WALA)-- Car owners across Alabama’s Gulf Coast are now dealing with a big headache after  massive hailstones came pummeling down across Orange Beach early Saturday morning, cracking and shattering windshields, denting vehicles.

“It was frightening. It was so loud, like bowling balls hitting the tin roof,” said Lindsey Bray who was vacationing with friends in Orange Beach.

Bray says hail pounded their condo for at least 10 minutes.

According to the National Weather Service this just the second time since 1950 that four inch hail has hit our area.

“We were just seeing tennis ball sized hail, baseball sized hail.”

Already more than 500 auto claims have been reported to State Farm from last night’s destruction.

This single storm in South Alabama leading to now more hail claims filed than during all of 2020 across the entire state.

“lot of the damage is so significant that we believe some of the cars might be totaled,” said Chris Pilcic, a spokesman for State Farm.

As many drivers start the emotionally and financially draining process of filing a claim, Pilcic says safety is the number one priority as some cars are so badly damaged that they shouldn’t be driven.

“Not only does it pose a threat in possible injuries, it could do more damage to the inside of the car, so start that claims process as quick as you can if you’ve sustained damage,” said Pilcic.

Pilcic says pictures and videos of the damage can help drivers filing a claim.

You’ll want to hang on to any pictures of the hail itself, too.

He urges anyone affected to get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible.

“If you’re fortunate enough to not have sustained damage from this storm now is a really good time to prepare. We’re at the start of severe weather season, we see a lot of hail every year. $3.1 billion in damage last year, so if you didn’t have damage from this storm there might be another one some day in the near future,” said Pilcic.

Pilcic tells FOX10’s Marella Porter how quickly your claim is resolved will depend on your coverage, deductible and how your account is set up.

He says the average auto claim for hail damage is $4,300.

Drivers are encouraged to save receipts for any temporary fixes and do some digging before hiring anyone to work on your car by asking for recommendations from people you know and getting multiple estimates in detail and in writing.

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