© Niki Caruana
Insurance companies were faced with a flood of claims yesterday following Tuesday's freak hail storm that hit the north and east of Malta.

Certain crops can be replanted but some will have lost everything

Middlesea Insurance said they received a flurry of claims for damage at property located in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, St Andrew's, Għargħur, Mosta, Naxxar and San Pawl Tat-Tarġa.

These came in the wake of reports of tennis ball-sized hailstones lashing certain localities around midday on Tuesday.

Claims under property insurance policies were submitted for damage to solar water heaters, photovoltaic panels, glass and water pipes, said Middlesea's chief claims officer, Patrick Muscat.

A number of private motor vehicle claims were also filed under comprehensive policies.

Asked if hail was considered an 'act of God' by insurance companies, Mr Muscat said the term was an old misnomer that should be avoided. "It is now standard practice to have storm cover under most, if not all, property insurance policies," he explained.

Mile-End car repairs and towing services said it was busier than usual when the storm hit.

"We were called to accidents in Rabat, Mosta and Naxxar. The water on the road was a big problem," a spokesman said.

However, they did not have an unusually high number of repairs yesterday - "just a few for spark plugs caused by water damage".

The hail mostly caused slight cosmetic damage to vehicles, the spokesman added.

Farmers also suffered with some having their crops destroyed by the hail, according to Joe Galea, president of the Rural Manikata Cooperative.

Although the farms around Manikata were unaffected, Mr Galea said farmers in the Mosta, Rabat and Ta' Qali areas were not so fortunate, with potatoes and onions badly hit.

"The storm did not hit everywhere but some farmers were very unlucky. Certain crops can be replanted but some will have lost everything," he said.

"It's too early to say if they will ask for compensation from the Government," Mr Galea said.

There were widespread reports of the hailstones denting solar panels even though a spokesman for Solar Solutions in Naxxar said they had received no calls about damage to products they had sold as of 11am yesterday.

"Our solar heaters have thick security glass and are designed to withstand some punishment. Good quality solar panels would not normally be damaged by hailstones," he said.

In Għargħur, which bore the brunt of the storm, locals enjoying morning refreshments in San Bartilmew band club said many cars belonging to residents were dented and windows were broken.

One woman said her adult son was distraught after his 35 racing pigeons, costing some €2,000, were caught in the hailstorm.

"Lots of them did not come home and the ones that did were badly injured. One lost an eye," she said.

The parish priest also suffered extensive damage to his home, according to locals, but he was not available to comment when The Times visited his house.