UPDATE: Insurers Tally Damage Following Midwest Storms

March 14, 2006

Insurance companies in the Midwest are beginning to tally claims connected to hundreds of tornadoes and severe storms that hit a five state region in the Midwest late Saturday and early Sunday. Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas were all hit with severe weather, causing major damage and killing 10 people.

In Missouri, State Farm spokesperson Tia Lindell said that 11,000 fire claims have been reported with 15,000 auto claims. Missouri, clearly the hardest hit by the storms, has been declared a catastrophe area by State Farm. Tents are being set up all over the states so people can drive their hail damaged automobiles to the tent areas for claims adjusters to assess damage, Lindell said

In other states, such as Kansas claims numbers are between 2,500 to 3,000 property claims and about 5,500 hundred auto,” Lindell said. The University of Kansas closed its campus on Monday because of severe damage and concerns that falling debris could harm teachers and students.

In Illinois the estimates are at 1,200 with most claims in the state capitol, Springfield, hardest hit. Suburban Chicago also had some damage due mostly to high winds. In Arkansas, State Farm said claim totals are 1,000 for fire and 1,000 for auto.

Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Insurance Company, the second largest insurer in Illinois and a major writer in the other regions said that the company had already declared Illinois, Missouri and Kansas as catastrophe areas.

“Allstate has called its national catastrophe teams to those states to assess damage and to help customers in settling claims,” said Mike Siemienas, Allstate national spokesperson. “We have already begun providing checks to help some people who need alternative living quarters and that will continue for some time.”

Other carriers in the area are beginning to enter their numbers of claims. American Family Insurance counted about 940 auto claims and 500 property claims in the Kansas City area early Monday, plus an additional 750 auto and property claims in eastern Kansas, 1,000 in the Springfield area and 200 around St. Joseph, according to the Associated Press account.

The Shelter Insurance Cos. in Columbia fielded 4,100 claims by late Monday afternoon, including 500 from the Kansas City area, said Joe Moseley, a spokesman at the company’s headquarters.

The number is expected to rise. Shelter includes heavily damaged Sedalia in its Kansas City district. Also, parts of the company’s big rural Illinois market were in the path of major storms. Power to the company’s state headquarters in hard-hit Springfield, Ill., was knocked out and wasn’t expected to be restored for several days.

The storm ripped through southern Missouri and southern Illinois late Saturday night, killing a married couple whose car was blown off the road and destroying homes along a path of more than 20 miles south of St. Louis, officials said. Late Sunday afternoon, a third person was killed as she was trying to seek refuge in her mobile home south of Sedalia, Mo., when it was toppled by a tornado.

The National Weather Service said Sunday’s first tornado hit Lawrence at about 8 a.m., knocking out the warning sirens in Douglas County and prompting police to take to the streets to warn residents to prepare for the next expected storm system.

Some news accounts say that as many as 400 tornadoes hit the five state region.

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