Archive for Thursday, May 15, 2003

Insurance claims reach millions

Totals grow in Midwest as tornado damage is assessed

May 15, 2003

Representatives from three major insurance companies said losses caused by recent tornadoes to Midwest policyholders should exceed $140 million.

In the past week and a half, tornadoes have rampaged through the plains states, particularly Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

On Sunday, May 4, multiple cyclones ate through homes in Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties and into Missouri. On Thursday, May 8, a funnel touched down in Lawrence.

Oklahoma City, already reeling from the May 4 tornado, received another Thursday evening.

None of the three companies contacted for this story -- State Farm, American Family and Farm Bureau -- had figures totaled for Leavenworth or Wyandotte counties.

State Farm Insurance covers Oklahoma and is the leading insurance carrier in Kansas and Missouri. Representatives said the company has processed 22,000 claims in the three-state area.

Payouts for the claims, split equally between home and automobile coverage, have amounted to $120.5 million. The bulk of the payments, $91.85 million, were to homeowners, and the remainder, $28.7 million, to automobile owners.

American Family Insurance, the second largest carrier in Kansas and Missouri, has processed 3,000 claims thus far.

The majority of claims, 1,700, have been for homeowners. The remaining claims are split between automobile owners and businesses, said Ken Muth, American Family spokesman.

The company expects more claims to come in, he said.

"It's fair to say when it's said and done, the total will be a considerable number," Muth said.

American Family has set up three locations for policyholders to make claims. The most convenient locations for area residents is the Woodland's race track in Kansas City, Kan.

Muth said the company expects to process claims "well into the summer months and perhaps beyond that."

Farm Bureau representatives estimate the company will pay out $2 million to home and automobile owners with property damaged by the tornadoes.

Ray Will, Farm Bureau district claims manager, said his company will pay close to $2 million to policyholders.

So far, 125 homeowners and 75 automobile owners have received compensation for damage caused by the weather, Will said.

But insurance companies aren't the only ones distributing funds to tornado victims.

Doug Welte, spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Association, said 514 people have applied for federal assistance in Kansas.

In Kansas, FEMA has a pool of funds, approximately $137,000, available to residents displaced by the storm. Welte said $60,000 in checks has been written to tornado victims to provide temporary housing.

In Missouri, 2,608 people applied for and received federal assistance. There is no dollar amount yet fixed to the Missouri residents, Welte said.

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