The Massachusetts Division of Insurance (DOI) announced this week its staff will be providing ongoing assistance for Revere residents and business owners who have open claims or other concerns related to the July 28th tornado.
A team of DOI staff will be in Revere through early September, available each Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Revere police headquarters, 400 Revere Beach Parkway. DOI staff will answer questions and assist in the process of making claims.
DOI said residents and business owners do not need to make an appointment to attend and are encouraged to bring all necessary documents to the assistance sessions.
Those seeking assistance with tornado claims but not able to attend in person are encouraged to call the DOI Consumer Services phone line at (877) 563-4467. Insurance examiners are available by phone Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.
DOI also issued a bulletin (“#2014-04”) for insurers on August 8, offering guidelines and recommendations regarding claims arising from the July 28th tornado damage. These guidelines — on topics ranging from claims handling and premium payments to underwriting — are listed below:
• All insurers are required to promptly investigate all claims. This includes the investigation of the causation of loss to ascertain if coverage exists on a claim-by-claim basis.
• Residents’ and businesses’ ability to qualify for federal disaster assistance may be dependent on furnishing evidence that the insurer has denied an insured’s claim in whole or in part. In those cases in which an insurer is denying a claim, the insurer must provide proper documentation to the insured which will be sufficient to allow the insured to apply for federal disaster assistance, where available.
• DOI expects insurers to offer extensions to claimants who have been displaced from their homes or businesses as a result of the disaster if they are unable to meet reporting timelines or other requirements that are specified in their insurance policies or otherwise.
• Insurers should establish expedited claim processing procedures and simplified claim reporting forms where appropriate.
Premium Payments and Vacancy Provisions
• DOI encourages all insurers to provide prompt and immediate relief to those policyholders impacted by the disaster, including the temporary suspension of premium payments and suspension of vacancy provisions for those temporarily displaced.
• The term “suspension” is not intended to mean forgiveness of the premium; rather, it refers to an extended grace period for the payment of premium.
• Insurers are also encouraged to work with policyholders with regard to the collection of premiums, including granting requests for reasonable payment plans.
• DOI will work with insurers to minimize the regulatory effects of an insurer’s suspension of premium payments, specifically in regard to financial review requirements.
• It is not appropriate for insurers to re-rate, cancel, non-renew, or refuse to provide insurance coverage due solely to an individual’s status as a victim of this storm or as an evacuee of this disaster.
• It is not reasonable to change policyholders’ rating classifications or increase their insurance rates solely because they are victims of this storm or evacuees of this disaster.