June 14, 2013

Department of Insurance: More than 6,300 insurance claims filed after St. Louis tornadoes

Consumers should avoid unscrupulous contractors

Jefferson City, Mo. - The major insurance companies serving the St. Louis area have received more than 6,300 claims from residents with damage from tornadoes that struck the area on May 31. The Missouri Department of Insurance today received the insurance companies' preliminary claims numbers of 6,321 claims filed.

One insurer reported more than 2,200 claims, while another reported nearly 1,300. The data was provided to the department from insurance companies that make up nearly 75 percent of Missouri's homeowners insurance market.

"Consumers have responded quickly in assessing their property damage and getting claims filed, and I commend the insurance industry for their efforts in promptly assisting their policyholders," said John M. Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance. "Our department will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that consumers are receiving their benefits due under their insurance policies."

The department has resources for storm victims, including consumer tips and the toll-free claims numbers and websites for 23 of the major insurance companies in Missouri.

Huff says consumers should avoid unscrupulous contractors and repair services that prey on homeowners during their time of need. These individuals and companies known as "storm-chasers" typically go door-to-door claiming to specialize in home repairs or other services such as tree-trimming or debris removal.

If you have property damage, the department encourages you to follow these tips:

  • Don't let contractors inspect your home if you're not watching. Some unscrupulous workers may cause damage to drive up repair costs and your insurance company will likely not cover the additional damage.
  • Once your insurance claim is processed, get at least three estimates from contractors or auto repair shops known to you or recommended by someone you trust. Be suspicious of solicitors who offer to do repairs for you.
  • Don't pay the whole repair bill in advance. Pay in full only when the work is completed according to your agreement.

Consumers can file complaints or ask general insurance questions by calling the department's Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or by visiting insurance.mo.gov.