Mo. Storms Hit Insurers for $400M, According to Commissioner

May 14, 2003

Missouri’s insurers are likely to pay at least $400 million to more than 60,000 Missourians for insured property damage from last week’s tornadoes and other violent storms, according to Insurance Commissioner Scott Lakin.

“While these storms will not set records for the cost of damage or fatalities in Missouri, insurers are using terms like ‘devastating’ to describe the severity of damage that their adjusters are finding across the state,” Lakin said.

Insured losses in southwest Missouri likely exceed $130 million affecting more than 12,000 policyholders. Lakin said the totals do not reflect out-of-pocket costs of $3 million or more for insurance deductibles as well as extra cost to repair homes, barns and other structures that are covered by county mutual insurers in rural areas of Missouri, uninsured damage to publicly owned buildings and uninsured private losses, such as damage to many structures in historic Pierce City’s business district.

He said estimates tend to increase as time passes and the magnitude of the damage becomes clear. MDI based its projections on reports from about 30 companies that insure almost all of the state’s homes, small businesses and autos.

Lakin’s announcement came in a news conference today in Battlefield, a Springfield suburb that suffered serious damage May 4. He was joined by representatives of the largest insurers in the state who talked about their response to the storm.

“For a solid week, every corner of Missouri was battered – with tornadoes from greater Kansas City to DeSoto and Jackson to a string of communities from Pierce City to Battlefield and from Stockton to Camdenton. Hail and non-tornadic winds have added to the mounting total,” Lakin said.

Insurers deploy 500-plus additional personnel to deal with disaster
Lakin, MDI director since March 2001, said his staff indicated that insurers have been improving dramatically their response time to natural disasters in recent years.

“In fact, the sheer volume of volunteers to help storm victims and insurance adjusters prompted authorities in some areas with the heaviest damage to cordon off areas to allow for removal of downed trees and power lines,” Lakin said. “It’s a fine line that’s difficult to judge between speedy reaction and public safety after such disasters.”

The state’s largest insurers reported that they already have assigned more than 500 additional personnel to handle claims in Missouri with more teams expected to be deployed this week. Several have opened mobile or temporary catastrophe centers in hard-hit communities, Lakin said.

Fifteen of the state’s largest insurers already have logged 26,716 claims for damage.

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