Posted on 03 Jul 2008
Wisconsin's biggest insurers are seeing claims for damage from June's brutal rainstorms continuing to roll in.
American Family Insurance, which covers about one of every four homes in Wisconsin, already has paid more than $8 million in claims. About $7 million of that has gone to policyholders in the southeastern part of the state.
Sheboygan-based Acuity Insurance has paid water damage claims totaling $6.1 million, and Sun Prairie's General Casualty's claims so far top $4.6 million.
"It's been another busy year, but we understand this is why people buy insurance from us," said Ken Muth, spokesman for American Family in Madison.
Claims being paid by insurers generally cover damage from water that has found its way into a home from sources other than flooding. Rain that came in through a wind-damaged roof or water that overflowed a basement sump pump crock when power failed are typical reasons for claims.
Insurance to cover damage from floodwater that entered though foundation cracks, doors, basement windows and other low openings usually must be obtained through the federal flood insurance program.
Violent storms unloaded more than 9 inches of rain during the first weekend of June, turning hard-hit counties into federal disaster areas where the damage tally continues to mount.
"We still have our catastrophe teams set up," said Kelly Savage, a spokeswoman for State Farm Insurance in Milwaukee.
State Farm didn't have a dollar figure, but the firm has received more than 3,000 homeowner claims from Wisconsin. American Family has received about 7,700 claims.
Muth said when a claim is reported to American Family, it sends adjusters to inspect the property even if it's unlikely the damage will be covered.
"We still do an inspection because one of the conditions for receiving aid from FEMA is you get a claim-denial letter from your insurance company," Muth said.
Regulators in several flood-ravaged states where American Family sells insurance have ordered companies not to cancel policies for nonpayment. American Family has extended that moratorium voluntarily to some other states, including Wisconsin, Muth said.
He said American Family agents and employees are examining company records to identify customers who may be at risk of cancellation because of the widespread flooding and severe weather and taking steps to help the customers maintain their insurance coverage.