3 Months After Ike: 730K Claims Filed; 2,300-Plus Complaints Received

December 16, 2008

By Dec. 13, 2008, the three-month mark since Hurricane Ike’s landfall on Galveston Island, more than 730,000 insurance claims had been filed, a number that will continue to climb in the year ahead, the Texas Department of Insurance reported.

By contrast, Hurricane Rita in 2005 generated about 95,000 homeowners insurance claims in Texas and Hurricane Dolly earlier in 2008 has generated about 50,000 claims to date.

TDI began outreach efforts before Hurricane Ike came ashore and the department continues to offer its assistance to Texas residents dealing with the aftermath of the devastating storm.

More than 250 TDI employees have served at Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) in the Galveston, Houston and Beaumont areas and assisted more than 6,500 consumers in the field to date.

TDI staff continue to help consumers at the DRCs on a one-on-one basis. TDI’s Consumer Protection Division has received more than 10,000 additional requests for information or assistance via TDI’s toll free Consumer Help Line (1-800-252-3439), which has operated on extended hours since the hurricane. Assistance is available in both English and Spanish.

TDI’s Hurricane Ike Resource Web page, www.tdi.state.tx.us/consumer/storms/cpmhurrike.html, has received more than 36,000 hits, including over 2,300 to the Spanish version of the Web page.

To date the Consumer Protection Division has received more than 2,300 formal complaints and through its efforts returned more than $4.6 million to consumers in additional claims payments.

The Department has also begun to explore the development of a mediation program to handle certain disputes that remain unresolved between consumers and insurers after the regular claims and complaints process avenues have been exhausted.

TDI is working closely with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) to help expedite the processing of claims and complaints through a newly developed electronic filing process. Additional staff have been assigned to the Department’s Windstorm Inspections Team to facilitate the inspection of hurricane damage rebuilding and repairs. Proof that repairs have been made according to required building code standards is needed to obtain wind coverage through TWIA. To schedule an inspection, call TDI at 800-248-6032.

Additional targeted outreach is now taking place at community centers, churches and through advertising to reach consumers who may need assistance, but not know where to turn for help.

Source: Texas Department of Insurance, www.tdi.state.tx.us

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