Texas’ insurer of last resort for wind and hail coverage along the coast reports that 63 percent of claims from Hurricane Ike have been closed and that more than $519 million has been paid to policyholders so far.
Jim Oliver, general manager of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, recently told the group’s board of directors that 56,300 claims had been resolved and efforts to close the remaining Hurricane Ike claims have been ramped up to a higher intensity level.
“We have closed about 63% of all claims filed, which is a remarkable accomplishment given the magnitude of Ike,” Oliver said. “We are continuing to add qualified claims examiners who will review claim reports from adjusters, talk with policyholders and pay the claims. Telephone service remains a challenge for us. Many policyholders would rather talk to a TWIA claims examiner than their adjuster. We would prefer that our policyholders deal with their adjusters, who are visiting insured locations daily. However, we understand that policyholders want to talk to a TWIA representative so we will keep adding qualified claims professionals until we can fully accommodate our policyholder needs.
“TWIA has 43 adjusting firms, 1500 adjusters and 92 supervisors making contact with those who suffered property damage,” he added. “Our permanent staff in Austin has been working seven days a week since Ike made landfall. We will continue to work the necessary overtime until we can satisfy the needs of our policyholders.
“We are receiving 125,000 – 150,000 phone calls per month,” Oliver told the TWIA Board. “Before we closed our mobile office in La Marque, over 9,000 policyholders sought assistance from us,” he said.
Oliver assured that “TWIA has more than enough financial resources to pay all covered claims for Hurricane Ike. The Association has $1.2 billion cash on hand and can access additional funds as needed to pay all claims.
“Hurricane Ike is unique in that there are many situations where it is difficult for adjusters to tell the damage that is caused by wind and covered under TWIA policies versus the damage caused by flood/surge that is not covered under TWIA policies. Oliver said. “TWIA claims personnel are trying to work with each policyholder to determine their covered loss. We want to pay all policyholders what they are owed as quickly as reasonably possible. However, there will be delays.
“We understand the frustration of the Ike victims and if there is a misunderstanding as to what we should pay, we encourage our policyholders to ask their contractors to meet with TWIA adjusters. The adjusters can review their estimates with the estimates from contractors and come to agreed settlement amounts,” Oliver advised.
“We will continue to adjust our processes and procedures and add qualified claims personnel to meet the challenges that this unique storm has presented us,” Oliver said. “We will find a way to serve each and every one of our policyholders,” Oliver stressed.
Source: Southwestern Insurance Information Service
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