April 4, 2014
Department of Insurance consumer team expands hours in response to Missouri storms
Consumers can contact department with questions or concerns about their insurance claims
Jefferson City, Mo. - To help Missourians with insurance claims and questions in the wake of recent severe weather that impacted many parts of the state, the Missouri Department of Insurance is temporarily expanding the hours for its Insurance Consumer Hotline. Beginning April 7, consumers can call the hotline at 800-726-7390 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. (Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
"We stand ready to assist consumers if they have insurance questions or are experiencing issues filing a claim with their insurance company," said Director John M. Huff. "By expanding our hours of operation, we hope to accommodate more Missourians. I strongly encourage consumers to report claims to their insurance companies as soon as possible and contact our department if they reach an impasse with their insurance company."
Last year the department returned $16.1 million to consumers after they filed a complaint against their insurance company. It is the second-highest recovery on record.
This week, Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri as a severe weather system moved across the state, leading to high winds, flooding and several reported tornadoes that caused widespread property damage. Nixon ordered activation of the State Emergency Operations Center and activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which allows state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services.
The Department of Insurance offers these tips:
- Contact your insurance agent or your company's toll-free claims number as soon as possible.
- If you have lost the contact information for your insurance company, the department may be able to help you locate it. Contact the department at insurance.mo.gov or by calling 800-726-7390.
- Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. For example, a hole in the roof should be covered by a tarp or other materials to keep out rain. The same goes for a broken car window. Otherwise, further damage will likely not be covered by your insurance policy. Keep the receipts for materials you buy so you can be reimbursed.
- Don't make permanent repairs until your insurance company has inspected the damage. If you do, your company may not reimburse you.
- Once your claim is processed, get estimates from contractors or auto repair shops known to you or recommended by someone you trust. Be suspicious of strangers who offer to do repairs for you.
- If you believe your insurance company has not handled your claim properly, file a complaint with us. The department will determine whether your insurance company has followed Missouri law in processing your claim.
- Don't let contractors inspect your property if you're not watching. Some unscrupulous companies will cause damage to drive up the repair cost, and your insurance company will likely not cover the additional cost.
- Don't pay the whole repair bill in advance. Pay in full only when the work is completed according to your agreement.
- Business owners can refer to the department's "Small Business Insurance" Web page, which offers information on commercial property, business interruption insurance and more.
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.