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Thursday, April 17, 2014

State agencies offer tips, insurance help


Eagle staff

State agencies said Monday that they're ready to help victims of tornadoes and flooding with insurance matters. They also warned those victims to beware of scam artists.

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said her office can help residents, including those who have lost their insurance paperwork but remember their agent or carrier's name.

On Monday, claims adjusters for many insurance companies had set up operations in Greensburg and other communities in Kiowa, Barton, Stafford and Edwards counties, Praeger said.

Residents who have trouble locating an adjuster should contact Praeger's Consumer Assistance Division at 800-432-2484. It will relay contact information to the insurance company, agent or adjuster.

"Our department has talked with many of the (insurance) companies who have customers in the damaged areas," Praeger said. "We are encouraged that they are providing immediate cash assistance for temporary housing and other essentials. Some companies report that they have already filed claims on behalf of a majority of their affected customers."

Attorney General Paul Morrison, meanwhile, warned residents to be wary of fraudulent contractors, price gouging "and other con artists" that a natural disaster can bring.

Morrison pledged that his office will monitor rebuilding efforts. His office offered these tips:

• Do not sign a contract for repairs until you and your insurance agent have agreed on the exact costs.

• Get several estimates for work that needs to be done.

• Never agree to repairs until you have a written contract stating the type and quality of work to be done, the cost of the labor and supplies and a start and end date for the project.

• Do not give a contractor a large down payment. A typical down payment is one-third of the total coast with future payments as work is completed.

• Make sure the contractor you hire has a local business or phone number.

State Banking Commissioner Tom Thull said residents who've lost credit cards or debit cards should contact the card issuer as soon as possible to put a stop-payment order on lost checks.

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