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As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week Commerce Commissioner reminds families to review policies and procedures

April 25, 2014

For Immediate Release 

SAINT PAUL, MN – During severe weather season, Minnesota sees on average 40 tornadoes per year, creating the potential for property damage, financial distress, and personal danger for families.  Severe Weather Awareness Week was created to provide an opportunity for households to review their emergency procedures and prepare for weather-related hazards.

That’s why the Minnesota Department of Commerce is reminding households to review their insurance policies to ensure their coverage is appropriate to minimize the potential damage if and when severe weather strikes.  Beyond the Commerce Department’s Disaster Information Center located on the website, a handy financial literacy guide Disasters Happen: Are you Prepared? is available for consumers.  The guide lists tips for planning for a disaster as well as organizations that can help you pick up the pieces in the wake of a storm.

“Severe Weather Awareness Week reminds everyone that in the blink of an eye, storms can wreak havoc causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to our homes and our communities,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman.  “Take time now to review your home and business insurance needs – having the appropriate coverage can mean the difference between financial recovery after a storm or financial disaster.”

Preparation is critically important to recover quickly after a disaster.  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 Information 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 Information 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.

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. 

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.

What to Do After a Storm: 

If a storm damages your property, follow these simple steps: 

  • Be safe. Look out for downed power lines, etc. Do not try to go into an area until the official time is given.

  • Call your insurance company to report the damage. They will send out adjusters to review the damage and assess the loss. Take photos of the damage and remove personal property if your home cannot be secured. Do not dispose of property until an insurance adjuster has reviewed it for your claim. Many policies include reimbursement for storage costs incurred until your home is repaired.

  • Beware of storm-chasing contractors. Do not agree to a contract without checking their references and checking with the Department of Labor's Residential Contractors Division at (651) 284-5069.

Commerce is here to help

If you have questions about your insurance, how to file a claim, or believe you have been the victim of a scam or fraud, contact the Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team.

Phone: (651) 539-1600 or (800) 657-3602 (Greater Minnesota) 

Email: consumer.protection@state.mn.us 

Address: Minnesota Department of Commerce, Consumer Protection and Education Division, 85 7th Place East, St. Paul, MN 55101