For Immediate Release - September 29, 2011

Irene Generates 28,500 Insurance Claims, Totaling More Than $90 Million, According to Division of Insurance Estimates

In western and central Massachusetts, 4,800 claims total over $15 million

SPRINGFIELD – September 29, 2011 – The Patrick-Murray Administration’s Division of Insurance today said Tropical Storm Irene has generated an estimated 28,500 claims, totaling over $90 million. The figures were announced during the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s Consumer Day event held at Tower Square in Springfield.

The totals include 4,800 claims of $15.6 million in western and central Massachusetts.

“Dealing with an insurance company after a natural disaster can be a confusing chore during a difficult time,” said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. “If a homeowner or business owner has a problem with their claim, they should call the Division of Insurance and seek help dealing with their carrier.”

The Division of Insurance can be reached at (888) 563-4467.

In western and central Massachusetts, Irene generated an estimated 350 claims worth over $960,000 in Berkshire County, more than 150 claims worth nearly $750,000 in Franklin County, more than 600 claims worth over $2.5 million in Hampden County, nearly 200 claims worth almost $800,000 in Hampshire County, and over 3,500 claims worth more than $10.6 million in Worcester County.

The counties in eastern and southern Massachusetts also saw extensive damage from Irene, with an estimated 1,000 claims worth nearly $2.6 million in Barnstable County, over 30 claims worth nearly $88,000 in Dukes County, over 1,000 claims worth over $4 million in Essex County, an estimated 6 claims worth over $13,000 in Nantucket County and more than 1,300 claims worth over $4.5 million in Suffolk County. The counties with the highest amount of estimated claims were Plymouth County with over 4,300 claims worth more than $14 million, Bristol County with more than 4,000 claims worth nearly $14 million, Middlesex County with over 5,100 claims worth more than $17.4 million, and Norfolk County with over 5,300 claims worth more than $18 million.

As homeowners move forward on repair projects, the Office of Consumer Affairs encourages use of a registered home improvement contractor to have work done on their home. By using a registered contractor, important consumer protections remain in place, including access to the Guaranty Fund which can include restitution up to $10,000 for the homeowner.

Before hiring a contractor, consumers should consider following these steps:

  • Check a registration online at www.mass.gov/consumer;
  • Before hiring a contractor, make sure you interview at least three candidates, and get a written estimate from them;
  • Check on references. If at all possible, go out and see work a contractor has done on other homes;
  • When signing a contract, make sure the total price of the contract is clear, there is a payment schedule and make sure you understand the provisions for changes or extras. Also, ensure the start and completion dates are clear;
  • The contractor cannot collect more than one-third of the cost of the contract in advance, unless special-order materials are needed;
  • Also, make sure the contractor obtains any local building permits. If the homeowner applies for the permit, he or she may not be eligible for compensation from the guaranty fund.

For more information on disaster preparedness and planning visit the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation website. The Division of Insurance is an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Follow the Office at www.mass.gov/consumer, its Consumer Connections Blog and at its Twitter feed, @Mass_Consumer.

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