Thousands of insurance claims adjusters are examining the damage left behind by Hurricane Ike from the Texas coast to the Arkansas border, the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) reported. Millions of dollars in insurance claims settlements have already been handed out to Texans whose insured property was either damaged or destroyed.
“Because of the loss of power and widespread damage, it was initially difficult for those hit by the storm to contact their insurance agents to report claims,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the ICT. “Insurance catastrophe teams pouring into the hardest hit areas are overcoming the obstacles to reach those who have suffered losses.”
Hanna said the best way for Texans to settle insurance claims is to know the extent of damage to their property and the cost to repair it. “The more information you can provide the claims adjuster about your losses, the quicker the claim can be settled.”
Before and after photos, personal property inventories and projected costs to replace items can assist adjusters in their initial visit. Receiving written bids from licensed contractors to repair insured property losses can also speed up the claims settlement process.
“Agents and claims adjusters work their hardest following catastrophes,” said Hanna. “Many of the agents’ homes and businesses were damaged by Hurricane Ike and they’re deluged with claims while working without power and under harsh conditions. They’re trying to reach and comfort as many people as possible in any given day.”
Only two weeks after claims adjusters rushed to the aid of policy holders hit hard by Hurricane Gustav next door in Louisiana, Hurricane Ike make landfall. Ike is expected to exceed the damage of Hurricane Rita that created 180,000 damage claims in Texas alone. More than 99 percent of Rita’s claims were settled without the need to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance.
One claims adjuster with 31 years of experience in dealing with catastrophes says most homeowners are shell shocked from the damage and may be apprehensive in dealing with claims adjusters.
“We are there to assist homeowners and help them put their lives back together as quickly as possible,” says Ron Rogers, senior claims representative for Hochheim Prairie Insurance Company. “We want the homeowner to receive all of the benefits that they have been paying for and the best way to do this is to build a working relationship with the adjuster.”
Rogers said his claims adjusters are working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. “The hardest thing for adjusters to overcome is homeowners with adversarial attitude. It only defeats the purpose,” Rogers said.
If you simply can’t work with your claims adjuster, Rogers recommends contacting your insurance agent in solving the problem. “This will help us find out whether we truly have a bad apple in the bunch or it’s an isolated incident,” Rogers said. “This could lead to bringing in another adjuster or having some else take an objective look at the case to find where the problem may lie.”
Each claims adjuster may be dealing with hundreds of claims involving homes, cars, RVs, boats and motorcycles. One claim may take all day. Rogers says the most devastating losses are assessed first. He urged all policyholders to be patient and be prepared to offers adjusters as much information on their damage as possible.
Hurricane Ike struck Texas on September 13 and it is well on its way to becoming the state’s costliest storm on record.
Source: Insurance Council of Texas, www.insurancecouncil.org
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