May 11, 2012

DIFP reminds Joplin residents with tornado damage of 12-month insurance deadlines

Thousands of dollars potentially at stake

Jefferson City, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Insurance is sending an urgent message to Joplin residents with incomplete insurance claims related to last year's EF-5 tornado. The department says many homeowners insurance policies contain 12-month deadlines for consumers to receive full compensation for their damaged property. In these cases, any paperwork submitted after the deadline may result in a lower claim payment.

Insurance Director John M. Huff says some policies have six-month deadlines, but the Department of Insurance directed insurance companies last November to extend those deadlines to at least one year.

"In many cases, consumers are paid the full value for destroyed property after they pay to repair or replace it and turn in receipts to their insurance company," said Huff. "After all they've been through, we want Joplin residents to receive full reimbursement for their expenses related to tornado recovery."

Huff says consumers should check with their insurance agent or company - or check their policy - to find out what deadlines they face. The insurance term often used for full reimbursement is "replacement value." After the deadline, consumers may only receive "actual cash value," which subtracts depreciation from the value of destroyed property.

Insurance companies have paid more than $1.4 billion in homeowners, auto and commercial property claims related to the Joplin tornado. Huff expects that number to approach $2 billion by the time all claims are settled. Policyholders have filed more than 19,000 insurance claims.

Consumers with questions or complaints can call the Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or contact the department online at insurance.mo.gov

About the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department's seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products.

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