July 07, 2011

State regulators urge insurance companies to protect flood victims who move property to higher ground

Insurance department bulletin seeks exception to standard policies

Jefferson City, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Insurance is calling on insurance companies to provide extraordinary coverage for consumers who are evacuating their homes in anticipation of flooding. Insurance Director John M. Huff says Missourians need continued insurance coverage when they move their furniture, electronics and other personal property to higher ground.

Normally homeowners and renters policies only provide coverage for personal property for a short time, such as 30 days, if it's moved away from its permanent location.

For consumers with homeowners and renters insurance, but not flood insurance, Huff says moving property off-site is crucial, because these policies will not cover flood damage. And he says the standard 30 days of personal property coverage may not be enough during the floods of 2011.

"Homeowners and renters who move their personal property to higher ground are taking the responsible action," said Huff. "They should not be penalized by losing their insurance coverage for their belongings."

In a bulletin addressed to all property and casualty insurers in Missouri, Huff urges full coverage of personal property while it is located off premises and until the policyholder is able to move back home. The action by Huff is similar to steps taken by insurance directors in Iowa, Nebraska and North and South Dakota. 

The department says insurers who do not plan to extend coverage as described in Huff's bulletin should advise the department immediately by contacting the Consumer Affairs Division. Huff asks that consumers also contact the department if their insurance company is not providing extended coverage for personal property stored off-site.

Consumers can reach the department online or by calling the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390.