State claims payout at $2B
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Oct 27, 2011 | 788 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The insurance industry has paid $2 billion on 260,000 claims filed by Tennesseans as a result of storms between April 22 and April 28.

Gary Kearney, assistant vice president of Property Claims Service, a New Jersey company that identifies catastrophes for the insurance industry, said only the state of Alabama suffered a greater loss, at around $3 billion.

Localized figures are not available except through individual insurance companies or if the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance issues a data call, which it is considering and moving toward, according to Christopher Garrett, director of communications for the state agency.

The dollar figures are expected to increase as claims continue to be processed. Insurance companies are surveyed every 60 days because the longer it takes to put a family back in their homes, the more it costs. Kearney said it is in everyone’s best interest to settle claims as soon as possible.

The entire catastrophe stretched across 13 states and cost $7.3 billion. The event is ranked as the eighth costliest U.S. catastrophe on record — a list which was, until April, exclusively occupied by several hurricanes, the World Trade Center and the Northridge, Calif., earthquake in January 1994.

Kearney said there are relatively few billion-dollar catastrophes, but they are becoming more frequent as the populations grows and the cost of labor and materials increases.

The April weather event is the costliest catastrophe in the history of Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee, according to Vice President of Corporate Communications Dan Batey. So far, the company has paid 2,055 property claims in Bradley County at a cost of $31.5 million. That does not include 1,100 auto claims totaling $3 million.

As a side note, there are 97,775 registered motor vehicles in the county, according to Bradley County Clerk Donna Simpson.

Farm Bureau of Tennessee is the second-largest insurer in the state behind State Farm. State Farm disclosed the number of claims statewide, but not the dollar amount, and for competitive reasons, would not release the dollar amount or the number of claims filed in Bradley County. So far, the company has paid 33,000 homeowner claims and 28,000 auto claims.

Locally, according to the results of a damage survey of private property compiled June 29 by Bradley County Tax Assessor Stanley Thompson and County Planner Corey Divel, there were 1,629 structures which sustained various degrees of damage from the storm, at an assessed cost of $39.724 million.

Of the total, 1,329 were classified as residential, 33 were commercial and 267 were listed as miscellaneous. Of those, 449 structures were destroyed and 105 sustained major damage to the extent that they were still standing but not livable. There were 643 listed as having minor damage and 432 were affected in other ways. In both of those categories, the structures were livable.