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Commissioner Rothman urges Minnesotans to prepare for severe weather season

March 30, 2012

For Immediate Release
ST. PAUL, MN – The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recently reported that severe weather inflicted more than $43 billion in damages across the country in 2011 alone. Last year, Minnesota saw over 30 tornadoes, each leaving a trail of devastation forcing individuals, homeowners, and businesses to clean up and file insurance claims. However, new evidence suggests more than half of all consumers don’t have a home inventory of their possessions, putting them at risk for inadequate home insurance coverage. 
With the recent string of destructive tornadoes, including a March 15th tornado in Michigan causing damage to over 100 homes, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is urging all Minnesotans to prepare themselves and their families for violent weather. As storm season approaches, Commissioner Rothman says preparation is critically important.
“Minnesota consumers need to act now to prepare for violent weather that we know will impact communities across our state this year,” Rothman said. “Creating an inventory of your possessions and understanding what your insurance covers in the event of a storm or flood is absolutely critical.”
In an effort to help Minnesotans more easily review their insurance needs and respond appropriately after a disaster, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has launched a new section on its website this week. The Commerce Department’s new Disaster Center is designed specifically for Minnesota consumers. The web portal provides important information and resources that all Minnesotans should know and understand ahead of the upcoming storm season. The Disaster Center includes consumer information in the following areas:

Are You Covered? – If a disaster strikes, do you have the proper insurance coverage? Learn what is covered and what isn't in case of a storm or flood. 

The Claims Process – If you have suffered a loss to your home or property, this section contains questions you should ask and things you should know before filing a claim.

Home Inventory – Make sure your possessions are fully protected by documenting them with a home inventory. Do you have an Android® or iPhone®? If so, there’s an app for that. Download a free home inventory app for your personal mobile device.

Know Your Rights – Learn what your insurance company must and cannot do when you file an insurance claim after a disaster.

Auto Damage – From severe weather to icy road conditions, Minnesotans are no stranger to auto damage. Get all your questions answered about proper auto coverage and how to file an auto insurance claim.

Renters Insurance – If a tornado or flood destroys your apartment complex your landlord’s insurance won’t cover your family’s possessions. Renters insurance protects your personal property against damage or loss.

Contact Your Insurer – Who to call at your insurance company after a natural disaster.

Flood Insurance – As the second largest natural disaster, floods are widespread and can cause much more than property damage. Without proper insurance, flooding can cause severe personal and financial losses. Learn more about flood coverage.

Public Adjusters – What Minnesota consumers should know before doing business with a public adjuster. 

Rebuilding After a Disaster – Consumer tips about insurance, mortgages, and construction after a disaster hits your property.

Working With Contractors – The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) reminds homeowners to do some homework before hiring a building contractor after a storm.

Disaster Finances: 101 – Keeping your finances in order after a natural disaster damages your property and possessions.

We Can Help – Contact our Consumer Response Team (CRT) to help answer your insurance questions, expedite your claims, and file complaints.

Of all the resources and information available on the Commerce Department’s Disaster Center, Commissioner Rothman particularly encourages all Minnesotans to learn more about Home Inventories. Among the tools on the Commerce website is a home inventory checklist consumers can use to take inventory of their belongings. In addition to walking consumers from room to room in their home, the checklist also encourages consumers to make a note of the brand, model number, serial number and what was paid for each item.
According to a recent NAIC study, 59 percent of all consumers have not properly documented their possessions. Among those who have a home inventory, 48 percent do not have receipts, 27 percent do not have photos of their property, and 28 percent do not have a back-up copy of the inventory outside the home. 
“By investing a little time in the coming weeks to create an inventory of processions and review their insurance policies, Minnesotans can ensure good proof of coverage in the aftermath of a violent storm,” Rothman said. “Those who file a claim or qualify for assistance will know what items they had in their home, what will need to be replaced, and how they are owed through their insurance policy.”

Consumer Response Team

Commissioner Rothman also encourages all consumers to contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team (CRT) with questions, concerns, or complaints following a damaging storm, flood, or tornado. CRT experts can help you understand your rights, work with your insurer to settle a claim, and help you make informed insurance decisions after a flood or storm damages your home, auto, or property.
In the aftermath of a major, damaging storm or flood, our CRT staff goes door-to-door distributing insurance information to consumers and answering questions about coverage and the claims process. Consumers can reach a CRT representative between the hours of 8:00am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. 
Phone: (651) 296-2488 or (800) 657-3602 (Greater Minnesota)
Fax: (651) 296-4328
Address: Minnesota Department of Commerce, Consumer Protection and Education Division, 85 7th Place East, St. Paul, MN 55101