Missouri’s largest home and auto insurers deployed almost 500 extra personnel and opened 43 temporary sites to assist about 100,000 residents who suffered from wind or hail damage in late May, said Department of Insurance (MDI) Director Scott Lakin in a statement.
“Although this year’s damage was far less severe than the May 2003 tornado and wind storms, the largest insurers responded with roughly the same additional manpower to deal with more widespread claims,” Lakin said. “Over time, we continue to see improvements in policyholder assistance after these major weather events.”
Nineteen of the state’s top 24 insurers responded to an MDI survey and reported:
* They assigned 480 extra staff to storm areas, which ranged from tornado-ravaged, smaller cities in northern Missouri to metropolitan St. Louis, which suffered widespread hail damage to homes and vehicles.
* Thirteen of the companies established 43 mobile or other temporary on-site quarters to help policyholders file claims. Most were in metro St. Louis, but offices also were set up in Trenton, Maryville, Bethany, Plattsburg, Princeton, Troy, Chillicothe, Brookfield and Moberly.
The companies hired at least 40 local companies to help settle claims.
* Eleven of the 19 companies authorized local staff, adjusters and/or agents to write at least partial checks on the spot for damages, although some insurers limited the practice to temporary housing and repairs to prevent further damage.
* The 100,000 projected claims from last month’s storms would exceed the total for the serious tornado, wind and hail damage the state suffered in 2004, when the largest firms reported slightly more than 75,000 claims.
But the average payment is expected to fall well short of last year’s claims because the damage was not as severe as last year’s tornados. Through April 2004, the state’s largest insurers already had paid $401.1 million in losses for last year’s damages.
MDI did not require companies to submit detailed breakdowns of actual and projected payments for storm losses.
Consumers who are dissatisfied by their companies’ claims handling can call (800) 726-7390 for assistance or file a complaint at www.insurance.mo.gov.
Under Missouri law, companies have 10 days to acknowledge a claim in writing, 30 days to investigate the claim and 15 days to decide whether to reject the claim or make a settlement offer.
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