In the Aftermath of Tornadoes in Mississippi and Parts of the Southeast, Insurance Claims Filing Begins for Victims

I.I.I. Provides Tips to Speed the Claims Settlement Process

INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; media@iii.org

NEW YORK, April 25, 2010

Victims of Saturday’s tornado, part of a broad band of storms that swept through Mississippi and other parts of the southeast, are struggling to put the pieces of their lives back in place and getting ready to begin the claims filing process.

Standard homeowners and business insurance policies cover wind damage caused by tornadoes and severe weather. Homeowners insurance policies also provide coverage for additional living expenses that policyholders will need to finance temporary housing costs and other daily necessities. Damage to vehicles is covered under the comprehensive section of standard auto insurance policies, which is optional.

In Mississippi, the state hit hardest on Saturday, April 24, at least 10 people were killed and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed. There was widespread destruction, including fallen trees and downed power lines, which left thousands without power. Each year about 1,200 tornadoes with wind speeds as high as 300 mph touch down in the United States. Though not generally as destructive as hurricanes, tornadoes are more frequent and can also cause severe damage.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) offers the following advice to facilitate the insurance claims settlement process:
  • Be prepared to give your agent or insurance company representative a description of the damage to your property. Your agent will report the loss immediately to your insurance company or to a qualified adjuster who will contact you as soon as possible in order to arrange an inspection of the damage. Make sure you give your agent a telephone number where you can be reached.
  • If it is safe to access the area, take photographs of the damaged property. Visual documentation will help with the claims process and will assist the adjuster in the investigation.
  • Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. 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 canceled 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 and damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction. Save the receipts for any supplies and materials you purchase as your insurance company will reimburse you for reasonable expenses in making temporary repairs.
  • Secure a detailed estimate for permanent repairs to your home or business from a licensed contractor and give it to the adjuster. The estimate should contain the proposed repairs, repair costs and replacement prices.
  • If your home is severely damaged and you need to find other accommodations while repairs are being made, keep a record of all expenses, such as hotel and restaurant receipts.
  • If your business has been damaged, and you have business income (business interruption) insurance, it covers the profits your business would have earned, based on your own financial records, had the disaster not occurred. The policy covers additional operating expenses incurred as a result of the disaster, such as the extra expense of operating out of a temporary location.

Serious Losses Will Be Given Priority

If your home has been destroyed or seriously damaged your insurance agent or company representative will do everything possible to ensure your claim is given priority.

The Insurance Information Institute has a free brochure, Settling Insurance Claims after a Disaster. Consumers can get a copy online, or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038.

The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.

 

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