Dual Hurricanes Will Challenge Claims Handling Process

September 3, 2004

The historic one-two punch of Hurricanes Frances and Charley will make the claims handling process in Florida more difficult, but still manageable, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)

The I.I.I. stressed that the insurance industry anticipates such catastrophic events and has sufficient financial resources to pay the claims.

“Charles and Frances together do not pose a solvency-threatening event to the industry,” said Robert Hartwig, chief economist of the I.I.I. “However, the unprecedented challenges created by the dual hurricanes understandably will strain resources and cause some delays that would not normally occur.”

Thousands of additional insurance company claims adjusters from across the country will arrive in Florida to speed the claims settlement process following Hurricane Frances.

These company adjusters will reinforce the more than 7,000 company adjusters already in Florida handling claims from Hurricane Charley. Some 25,000 adjusters handled claims following Hurricane Andrew.

The industry will be working hard in the face of the same obstacles faced by its customers – lack of power, phone service and access to properties in some severely damaged areas, Hartwig observed.
He noted that adjusters necessarily will be prioritizing their visits by severity of damage, calling at the most seriously damaged properties first and getting to less damaged locations later.

The company claims adjusters will write checks to pay the costs of temporary housing for people whose property was damaged by the storm and to begin the rebuilding of damaged homes and businesses.

Some companies also will be opening emergency claims centers to assist their policyholders. Policyholders should contact their agents or call toll-free emergency claims numbers. Customers who have left their homes should tell their insurance agent or company representative how they can be reached.

The following tips from I.I.I. will help assist hurricane victims with the claims process:
· Be prepared to give your agent or insurance representative a description of your damage. Your agent will report the loss immediately to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible to inspect the damage. Be sure to give your agent a telephone number where you can be reached.

· Take photos of the damaged areas. These will help with your claims process and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.

· Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. Be sure to make two copies – one for yourself and one for the adjuster. Your list should be as complete as possible, including a description of the items, dates of purchase or approximate age, cost at time of purchase and estimated replacement cost.

· Collect cancelled checks, invoices, receipts or other papers that will assist the adjuster in obtaining the value of the destroyed property.

· Make whatever temporary repairs you can. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save receipts for supplies and materials you purchase. Your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs.

· Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home from a reliable contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.

For more information visit the Hurricane Insurance Information Center Web site at www.disasterinformation.org.

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