The storms that hit the Southern regions of the USA have caused enough devastation for the local government to step in and force auto insurance companies across the affected area to grant a grace period for car insurance payments. Insurance commissioners are providing assistance to those policy holders affected by the disaster, until they get back on track.
Jim Ridling, an Alabama insurance commissioner, has instructed auto insurance companies to give their clients who were directly affected by the storms a 30-day grace period, as tornadoes which have been wreaking havoc since Wednesday even caused disruption to postal services and could be a cause for “extended power outages”.
Ridling said in a public announcement, “Many Alabama consumers will have great difficulty paying premiums on time”. He did, however, also emphasize that this did not mean that policy holders no longer had an obligation to pay their insurance providers, only that they would be given a little more time.
High Number of Claims
A large number of extra representatives from auto insurance companies have been sent to deal with the higher than usual number of claims as a result of the storms and tornadoes.
In Missouri regulators have advised that representatives asses the damaged vehicles first hand but that policy holders make sure the reps have legitimate identification. They also advise that customers be weary of representatives who ask for direct payments (i.e. are not paid by the insurance company but rather directly by the policy holder). These are scammers taking advantage of a dire situation and great care should be taken when opening the door for people that come knocking unannounced.
The Missouri advisory commission also urges residents to “get estimates from contractors or auto repair shops known to you or recommended by someone you trust. Be suspicious of solicitors who offer to do repairs for you.”
It was announced on Thursday by Missouri regulators that more than 2,200 automobile insurance claims from St. Louis alone had been made as a result of the tornado on April 22.
Insurance policy holders in the Alabama area, who make storm related claims, should also compare auto insurance premiums; current premiums as well as those at the time of renewal.
A policy which was written post February 1 or renewed post April 1 does not legally allow insurers to apply a premium surcharge “based solely on a claim arising from a catastrophe, natural disaster, acts of nature or weather-related causes.”
Residents who are unhappy with treatment from their auto insurance company or who feel that they cannot resolve their problems through their auto insurance provider are advised to contact their state insurance department. The Alabama department of insurance focuses on providing its residents services including: industry regulation, providing consumer protection, promoting market stability, and providing fire and disaster safety standards and laws.
The devastation of tornadoes is a constant threat, but it is nice to know that insurance companies, by way of regulatory instruction, are giving those affected a bit of a break.