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Insurance companies gear up, offer tips

As the tide comes in, a Patchogue resident

As the tide comes in, a Patchogue resident tries to clear a storm drain after the storm surge of Hurricane Irene. (Aug. 28, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Insurance companies had hundreds of claims adjusters ready to be deployed as well as agents responding to phone calls as residents Sunday began surveying the damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

Insurers said it was too early to estimate the damage and insurance claims, but some could have preliminary counts later in the day.

“We have people all along the coast grouping since Tuesday and Wednesday, getting themselves in standby mode,” said Jeff McCollum, State Farm spokesman. “. . . We are able to be there right away as soon as we get the all clear.”

State Farm’s call centers were busy Sunday, McCollum said. Agents will triage the claims, prioritizing the worst damage first. In less complicated cases, adjusters will be able to write checks out on the spot, typically for items such as clothes, hotel costs or other living expenses, he said.

Liberty Mutual also had teams ready to respond, said spokesman Glenn Greenberg.

“We have hundreds of claims adjusters being deployed up and down the Eastern Seaboard to respond as quickly as possible to all customers affected by the storm,” Greenberg said. “. . . We have claims adjusters who are on the ground being deployed to the most severely hit areas.”

Greenberg stressed that customers should only assess damage to their property when it is safe to do so and when all evacuation warnings have been lifted.

If you have a story to tell us about claims, email keiko.morris@newsday.com or call her at 516-242-0635.

To make the insurance claim process easier, the Insurance Information Institute suggested the following tips:

-- Be prepared to give your agent a description of the damage to your property and make sure you give your agent a telephone numbers where you can be reached.

-- If it is safe to access the area, take photographs of the damaged property.

-- Prepare a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property and make two copies – one for yourself and one for the adjuster.

-- Make temporary repairs – such as covering broken windows or damaged roofs – without endangering yourself.

-- Save receipts for all expenses, including hotel or restaurant receipts if you have to make temporary living arrangements.

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