St. Louis Hailstorm Still Impacting Insurers

September 26, 2001

Five months after a major hailstorm pelted north St. Louis County, Florissant city inspectors are still checking repair contractors’ work and the Missouri Department of Insurance is continuing to follow through on complaints from the public. According to a report in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the number of complaints have gone down, but still remain an issue. At the city’s third public meeting on hail-damage problems, held last week, only some 150 people attended – less than half the numbers recorded at similar meetings in June and July.

The hailstorm caused an estimated $700 million in damage to north St. Louis County and parts of St. Charles County. Almost 70,000 homes and businesses were affected, mainly with roof, siding, window and driveway damage.

According to Mayor Robert Lowery, what happened was devastating, and it’s the city’s response to try to help people, not just in Florissant but in the whole of North County.

More than 1,000 residents have inquired, and about 500 have processed state complaints against insurance companies. Another 30 residents at this session asked for complaint forms.

Insurance companies have been accused of taking too long to respond to claims, seeking to pay only for insufficient repair work, not paying what appear to be fair claims by asserting that damage existed before the storm or paying for repairs to only one side of a building when a four-sided replacement is needed to assure a completion of color and style.

Florissant has assisted its own residents with free inspections of completed work. Where work is found that does not meet building codes or is otherwise deficient, this is noted on official forms and can become part of the complaint process. Repair contractors are notified on an advisory basis. Although the contractor may not need a Florissant business license to do the work, the notifications have helped in promoting compliance to satisfy claims, officials say.

Florissant’s personnel have made numerous inspections since the storm and have at least 50 more scheduled through October.

Complaints to the state regulatory agency have so far resulted in some $898,000 in additional insurance payments from the storm.

The department has administrative procedures with the force of law, and some are intended to assure that the insured receives paid-for coverage.

A recent Department of Insurance directive makes necessary the replacement of four sides of a building’s siding, even if only one side is damaged, if because of style change or other factors a reasonable match does not result from repairs or replacement of only one side.

But State Rep. Mike Reid, R-Hazelwood, said that some residents had used insurance payments for purposes other than repairing the hail damage, and he cautioned against the practice. According to Reid, if you don’t have the complete repair done, that will make it difficult to get approval for a future claim.

Topics Carriers Catastrophe Natural Disasters

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