SAINT PAUL, MN – The first day of spring signals entry into severe weather season – floods, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. Minnesotans understand the volatility of weather, seeing record number of tornadoes in 2011 and an increased tornado season in 2012, beginning in March and ending in November. Consumers who have experienced the devastation of a natural disaster, forcing families and businesses to clean up and file insurance claims, understand the financial peace-of-mind insurance may provide. Troubling evidence suggests that more than half of all consumers do not have a home inventory of their possessions, putting them at risk for inadequate home insurance coverage in case of wildfire claims or any other natural disaster damage.
As storm season and spring flooding approaches, Commissioner Rothman says preparation is critically important. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recently updated their severe weather-related data, indicating that 2012 was an above-average year for insured losses, topping $57.9 billion.
“Minnesota consumers need to act now to prepare for severe weather that can impact communities across our state in the blink of an eye,” Rothman said. “Creating an inventory of your possessions ahead of time and understanding what your insurance covers in the event of a storm or flood is absolutely critical.”
In an effort to help Minnesotans proactively review their insurance needs and streamline their response after a disaster, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is urging consumers to visit its Disaster Center located on the Commerce website. This one-stop-shop was created to provide 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 is not 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.
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.
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.
Creating a home inventory is easier than ever thanks to myHOME Scr.APP.book, a new iPhone and Android application from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The free myHOME Scr.APP.book app lets you quickly photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information room by room, and even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.
Rebuilding after a storm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team (CRT) is available to help consumers 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.