Irene Generates 28,500 Insurance Claims Totaling $90 Million
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 Under-secretary 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.