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Poolman: June 9 Hail-Storm Damage To Exceed Initial Estimate
July 16, 2001 701-328-2440

Bismarck, ND - Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman said Thursday that revised hail-storm claims figures - which now reflect commercial, public and personal property losses - confirm the department's initial estimate that damages will exceed $220 million.

The new cumulative total for all lines of insurance is about $230 million. The figure is based on projections by NDID analysts, and estimates by 33 insurers with a 66 percent weighted statewide market share. More than 37,000 claims have been filed to date, and the department expects that number to reach more than 57,000 by the time claims processing is completed. (See attachment.) The companies agreed last month to share their information with the insurance department at Poolman's request.

"The human element here lies in the fact that the hardest hit sectors will be homeowners and personal auto owners," according to Poolman. "The personal lines of insurance will account for about 85 percent of the claims dollars. Nevertheless, damages incurred by commercial property will be substantial," he said.

Among the obstacles companies cited in settling claims were a shortage of adjusters and a heavy workload for independent adjusters; lack of availability of insureds for inspections; short staffing because of severe weather events and associated damage around the country; and tight availability of materials, workers and time.

Larry Maslowski, senior analyst and director of the property and casualty division, said the department had never before gathered as much information about a disaster from an informal survey. "The figures are just projections based on the data that's available," he said, "but the actual numbers coming in seem to be conforming very closely to our model." 

Poolman said the department would attempt when possible to gather such information in the future to gauge the severity of such an event and to help consumers recover as quickly and efficiently as possible in the aftermath. "We felt it would be helpful to offer the information as a service to consumers. Collecting and making this information available helps to ease the hardship and uncertainty that naturally accompanies a disaster," Poolman said. 

The commissioner also reminded consumers that the incident isn't over. "We still expect much of the work to spill into next year," he said. "There just may not be enough workers, materials or sunny days left to get it all the repairs done this summer and fall."

With reports of materials shortages, notably shingles, the commissioner said that some of the larger insurance companies assured him last month that they would relax a contractual provision requiring consumers to get all their repairs done within 180 days of the storm, providing that policy holders keep them informed about delays.

"We want to make it very clear that in our view it is neither practical nor possible to follow the 180-day provision, especially in light of recent reports of shortages," Poolman said.

Poolman advised consumers to arrange to get on a contractor's list for repairs and notify their insurance company at once if they can't have their work done within the deadline.

"We have to give credit to consumers, companies and contractors in managing this disaster. We've seen a lot of healthy cooperation in a challenging situation, and we're confident folks will continue to work together until the matter is cleared up," Poolman said.

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North Dakota Insurance Department
600 E. Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, ND 58505-0320
Phone 701.328.2440
Toll free 800.247.0560
Fax 701.328.4880

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