For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Commerce Commissioner, Staff Reach Out to Tornado Disaster Victims
(ST. PAUL, MN) Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and the department's Consumer Response Team hit the streets today to help victims of Sunday's tornado who have insurance and recovery issues.
The Commissioner visited the Minneapolis Convention Center, where Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis are holding a one-day Project Connect: Tornado Assistance Center for people impacted by Sunday's storms. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Members of the department's Consumer Response Team are on hand to assist consumers.
"We are here to help people put their lives back together after the devastating tornado," Commissioner Rothman said. "The Commerce Department is an important resource in times like these."
Members of the Consumer Response Team will also spend time today and tomorrow in North Minneapolis, an area that sustained heavy tornado damage. The Consumer Response Team plays a crucial role in the aftermath of disasters. CRT staff coordinates with Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Red Cross and FEMA in emergency planning and resource meetings. Following intense storms and floods in recent years, the CRT visits directly with Minnesota homeowners affected by the storms. CRT members provide consumers with helpful information on how to settle claims, and connect homeowners with consumer-assistance services available through the Department of Commerce.
For questions regarding insurance call the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team (CRT) at 651-296-2488 or 800-657-3602 (outside Twin Cities Metro area). You can also visit our website at www.insurance.mn.gov .
In addition, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has developed a one-stop shop to help Minnesota homeowners and businesses prepare for natural disasters. Some of the information included on our website is highlighted below.
Complete a Home Inventory
The Department of Commerce urges consumers to take inventory of their belongings ahead of the summer storm season. Research suggests that 48 percent of consumers do not have an inventory of their possessions. Of those who do, 32 percent have no photos and 58 percent have no receipts.
This Home Inventory Checklist walks consumers from room to room in their home, helping compile a list of their property. By completing the checklist, homeowners who file a claim or qualify for assistance will know what they had in their home that may need to be replaced. Consumers can also download the free myHOME Scr.APP.book app for iPhone® users by visiting the iTunes® App Store or searching 'NAIC' in the app store from their phone.
Information for Renters
If you rent and you don't have renter's insurance, you may want to consider purchasing coverage. Renter's insurance is relatively inexpensive and portable. The average renter's insurance policy costs between $15 and $30 per month. Renter's policies can cover everything from electronics to clothing to household appliances. Replacing all your possessions in the wake of a storm will cost much more.
Storms can damage autos in a number of ways: hail damage to the exterior and glass; wind driven debris damage; damage from fallen trees; and tornado damage. Coverage for these types of losses is provided by your policy under the Comprehensive portion of the auto policy. Some policies call this coverage Other than Collision. Ask your insurance agent how much coverage you have. For more information about auto insurance, click here.
What to Do After a Storm
If a storm damages your property, follow these simple steps:
Be safe. Look out for downed power lines, etc. Do not try to go into an area until the official time is given.
Call your insurance company to report the damage. They will send out adjusters to review the damage and assess the loss. Take photos of the damage and remove personal property if your home cannot be secured. Do not dispose of property until an insurance adjuster has reviewed it for your claim. Many policies include reimbursement for storage costs incurred until your home is repaired.
Beware of storm-chasing contractors - Do not agree to a contract without checking their references and checking with the Department of Labor's Residential Contractors Division at (651) 284-5069.
Call the Minnesota Department of Commerce. For questions regarding insurance call the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team at (651) 296-2488 or (800) 657-3602. You can also visit our website at www.insurance.mn.gov .