Commerce leaders urge summer storm preparedness
With storm and tornado season in full swing, the Minnesota Department of Commerce urges consumers to take stock of their insurance coverage and belongings before disaster strikes.
Wind storms and tornados can hit with little notice, destroying property and robbing consumers of their possessions. Only in the aftermath of disaster do most people think about what they lost and whether those losses are covered by insurance. By then, it may be too late.
Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is urging consumers to set aside some time over the next few weeks to review their home insurance coverage and take inventory of their belongings to ensure they are protected in case high winds, hail or a tornado hit their home and families.
"There are many things in life you cannot control, but we can control our ability to prepare for storms by investing a little time in the next few weeks to get ready," said Commissioner Rothman.
"Every year, hundreds of people who never thought they would lose their home or belongings in a storm find themselves picking up the pieces after a disaster," Commissioner Rothman said. "The storms that ripped through the southern U.S. more than a week ago and the damaging storms that hit Minnesota last year from Wadena to Anoka should serve as reminders to consumers and businesses that now is the time to prepare."
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has developed a one-stop shop to help Minnesota homeowners and businesses prepare for natural disasters. Among the tools on that site is a checklist that consumers can use to take inventory of their belongings. 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. Research suggests 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.
The department's Home Inventory Checklist will walk consumers from room to room in their home and help them compile a thorough list of their property. The checklist also encourages consumers to make a note of the brand, model number, serial number and what was paid for each item. By completing the checklist, homeowners who do file a claim or somehow qualify for assistance will know what they had in their home that might need to be replaced.
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 .
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 a series of intense storms and floods in recent years, the CRT has visited directly with Minnesota homeowners affected by those storms. CRT members provided consumers with helpful information on how to settle claims, and connected homeowners with consumer-assistance services available through the Department of Commerce. The team spent several days assisting consumers in the communities hit by a violent string of storms that ripped through the state in June 2010.