Commissioner Issues Bulletin for Special Circumstances of Disaster Designation

 

Commissioner Issues Bulletin for Special Circumstances of Disaster Designation

Companies to make allowances for floods and more

(DES MOINES) June 15, 2011Floods don’t just result in having to sandbag homes and move furniture in advance of rising waters. They also disrupt normal lives in ways that can’t be anticipated until a person experiences it. Iowa’s Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss issued a bulletin today directing companies to take special measures in the conduct of their business for Iowans impacted by floods and severe storms.

The bulletin instructs insurers to forgo normal limits on coverage for personal property that is not on the normal insured site. Normally, most commercial policies provide little or no off-site coverage, and homeowners policies may also have only a fraction of the normal coverage at a second home or other site. The intent of this provision of the bulletin is to recognize that moving property out of harm’s way with a flood rising is a responsible action by the policyholder, and should not result in further problems relating to normal risks like theft, fire, windstorms and such.

The bulletin also provides that companies must allow deferred payments of insurance premiums, knowing that paperwork may get lost in the shuffle of an evacuation, or may be left floating if a property is actually flooded. This measure helps prevent a disruption of normal bill-paying practices due to disasters from contributing to a policy cancellation.

Because insurers typically will only pay for prescription medications at specified intervals, and because evacuations can result in medications being lost or in people being separated from their medications because of hasty departures, the bulletin directs companies to allow refills without regard to normal timelines. The state’s largest health

insurance company has already announced this special process, and the commissioner is now directing other insurers to follow suit.

Finally, the bulletin cautions public adjusters to remain in compliance with state law in regard to their activities in lieu of the use of insurance company adjusters, and advises consumers of the special fees charged by these licensed persons.

The bulletin will apply in those counties declared as disaster areas this year. Any Iowan with questions about how this may apply to them, or any consumer with an experience different than the outcome described in the bulletin, can call the Iowa Insurance Division at 877-955-1212.

About the Iowa Insurance Division

The Iowa Insurance Division (IID) has general control, supervision and direction over all insurance and securities business transacted in the state, and enforces Iowa’s laws and regulations. The IID investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies, agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Consumers with insurance or securities-related questions or complaints may contact the IID toll free at 877-955-1212 or visit the division on the web at www.iid.state.ia.us.