published Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Insurers, regulators advise on claims

Those with property damaged from the storm are urged to call their insurance agent or claims office as soon as possible and to secure any exposed property to prevent further damage.

“Consumers should do what they can to secure and protect their property to keep it safe and prevent water damage, but you shouldn’t contract for large-ticket projects until you talk with a claims adjuster,” said Justin Tomczak, a spokesman for State Farm Insurance in Atlanta.

But watch out for con artists, said Mark Bordonaro, spokesman for Travelers Insurance.

“If you need to make temporary repairs, do so, but make sure your contractors are legit,” he said. “There are always storm-chasing contractors, so document everything and keep receipts.”

Regulator opening office

Tennessee’s Consumer Insurance Services, a division of the state Department of Commerce and Insurance, will set up an office in Chattanooga by May 16 to help consumers with questions and to handle any disputes with insurance companies over claims. In the meantime, property owners with insurance questions may call toll free 800-342-4029 or email cis.complaints@tn.gov.

The consumer insurance office is similar to what the insurance service set up following storms in Murfreesboro, Tenn., two years ago to help mediate between customers and insurance companies when disputes over claims arose.

The state Commerce and Insurance office also urges consumers to check on the state’s licensing website, (http://verify.tn.gov) to verify that any contractor is licensed to operate in the state.

“Many times after a storm, people go door to door saying they will fix damages but they aren’t even a licensed contractor,” said Christopher Garrett, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

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