Kansas City, Missouri (WiredPRNews.com) Missouri residents have pocketed nearly $750 million from insurance claims filed in the wake of the tornado that tore through the city of Joplin in May, state regulators have announced.
John M. Huff, director of the state Department of Insurance, urged consumers to contact his office with health, life or car insurance questions or concerns about any type of policy.
“The insurance industry’s role in Joplin’s recovery continues to be commendable,” Huff said in a statement. He called the $745 in claims payments “a significant reinvestment into the local economy.”
Regulators announced in June that the state’s providers of auto insurance and other coverages had paid more than $500 million in claims tied to the tornado that struck the southwestern part of the state on May 22, with auto claims accounting for more than $34 million.
Nearly $250 million was paid just in the first half of July, according to the department.
Almost 17,000 claims have been filed across all coverage types as a result of the disaster. Homeowner policies accounted for the largest share, with about 7,600 claims, followed by more than 6,600 auto coverage claims.
Huff said he expects total claims payments to wind up around $2 billion. He said any claims that are still outstanding at this point are likely to be among the most difficult to resolve.
The department warned Joplin-area residents in the weeks after the tornado struck to watch out for companies illegally offering to negotiate their coverage claims, pointing out that anyone who negotiates with insurers on behalf of consumers is required by state law to be licensed as a public adjuster.
Consumers who run into problems with their claims are often vulnerable to criminals looking to take advantage of them in the wake of a disaster, officials said.
Gov. Jay Nixon issued an executive order in June mandating, among other things, that public adjusters show proof of a state license to prospective customers and not require payment in advance or a fee of more than 5 percent of the claim payment.
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