June 10, 2011

Department of Insurance increases services for Joplin-area tornado victims

Staff presence in new state Joplin office, expanded telephone hours

Jefferson City, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Insurance this weekend is expanding the operating hours of its Insurance Consumer Hotline to better serve victims of the May 22 tornado that struck the Joplin area. Due to the volume of consumer inquiries, the department now has consumer service representatives available by phone weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays, beginning tomorrow, fromĀ 8 a.m. to noon.

Department employees are also staffing the new State of Missouri Resource, Recovery and Rebuilding Center that Gov. Jay Nixon opened in Joplin on June 7. The state office is located at 705 Illinois Ave., Building A, Suite 12. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"The expanded hours and presence on the ground will allow our department to better serve consumers recovering from the tornado," said Insurance Director John M. Huff. "It's our way of making sure those with concerns have an opportunity to call or visit and receive the assistance they need at a time that works well for them."

Huff urges victims to file claims with their insurance agent or company immediately. Huff says misinformation has spread through the Joplin area advising consumers to wait before filing claims. He says that is incorrect, and that consumers with damage need to act now to protect their property.

The department can assist tornado-affected consumers in several ways:

  • Resolve disputes they have with their insurance company. Every year the department helps policyholders collect millions of dollars in additional claims from their insurers.
  • Help consumers find their insurance company or agent's contact information if it has been lost or destroyed.
  • Offer advice on claim filing procedures and dealing with damaged property.
  • Check to see if insurance companies, agents and public adjusters are licensed.

Any consumer seeking insurance information or needing to file a complaint can also call the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit the Department of Insurance's website at insurance.mo.gov.