Insurance companies are fortifying their ability to process the mounting number of claims filed by North Carolina policyholders who suffered damages from Hurricane Matthew.
Both State Farm Insurance, the No. 1 homeowners’ insurer in the state, and Nationwide have brought in members of their national catastrophe teams to help out.
State Farm spokeswoman Michal Brower said the insurer has brought in more than 130 members from its catastrophe response team.
“They are deployed to areas with the most damage first,” Brower said Tuesday. They’re all over … the impacted areas.”
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Nationwide issued a statement saying it is deploying members from its national catastrophe team to “bring more claims representatives to areas with the greatest concentration of damage,” but the insurer didn’t supply any details.
The deployment of the State Farm team members is being directed by coordinators based in catastrophe team command centers in Raleigh and Wilmington.
In addition, “all of our local State Farm agencies are open and helping customers too,” Brower said.
As of Tuesday, State Farm had logged 3,320 claims from North Carolina policyholders with homeowners’ insurance plus another 970 auto insurance claims resulting from the hurricane, such as cars that were flooded or damaged by falling trees. Nationwide reported roughly 4,000 claims have been filed in North Carolina.
Research and consulting firm CoreLogic estimates that insured property losses throughout the Southeast from wind and storm surge damage caused by Hurricane Matthew will range between $4 billion and $6 billion.
Below is a Q&A about issues surrounding hurricane claims based on information available from the state Department of Insurance, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of American, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and individual insurers:
How do I file a claim? Contact your insurance agent, or your insurance company, to file a claim as soon as you safely can.
Are there things I should do before the insurance adjuster arrives? To expedite the claims process, make a list of damaged items you can present to the adjuster. Take photos or video of damaged property.
What if the storm has made my property vulnerable to further damage? Make any temporary repairs needed to protect your property. Save your receipts for any costs incurred.
Will my homeowners insurance pay for flood damage? Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damages caused by floods or rising water. However, some mobile home policies do provide flood coverage.
What about flood damage to my vehicle? If you have comprehensive coverage with your auto insurance policy, you may be covered for water damage.
What if my home is uninhabitable? Most homeowners policies will pay for living expenses incurred while your home is being repaired. But check with your insurance company or agent first to determine what expenses will be reimbursed, and save your receipts.
If my neighbor’s tree fell on my house, whose insurance covers the damage? Typically, your own insurance policy would cover damage caused by a neighbor’s tree.
How do I apply for help from the federal government? Individuals and business owners in certain counties – Beaufort, Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Edgecombe, Hoke, Lenoir, Nash, Pitt, and Robeson – are eligible to register for federal disaster assistance. They can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by downloading the FEMA mobile app or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Assistance can include funds to help with temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses, including crisis counseling and legal assistance.