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Insurance Claims from Tornadoes in MA Reach $90 Million

Source: Boston Herald

Posted on 08 Jun 2011

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According to a state tally, Western Massachusetts residents are seeking $90 million in insurance claims from the tornadoes that hit the Springfield area last week.

Almost all of the 5,000 claims filed so far are by homeowners whose property sustained varying degrees of wind damage, state consumer affairs chief Barbara Anthony said today.

“We do expect that to increase,” she said. “We haven’t heard yet from any homeowners who are not getting the value they want for their claims.”

State finance czar Jay Gonzalez said the state is still in “the cleanup and assessment stage and expects to have its application for federal assistance ready for filing by the end of this week or early next week.

“This would be for assisting both private citizens who need help dealing with property damage or other assistance, as well as public infrastructure that’s been damaged,” Gonzalez said during a speech this morning to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

The damage to public infrastructure has to hit $8.3 million for the state to qualify for federal disaster relief, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

The Patrick administration yesterday filed a supplemental state budget bill with $10 million for costs related to the tornados.

Anthony toured several state-run assistance centers in Springfield, Palmer and Southbridge as well as damaged neighborhoods this morning as part of the state’s continuing response to the disaster.

Her agency, which also oversees business regulation, is cautioning homeowners to look out for contracting scams.

“We don’t want people to be victimized again,” she said. “We hear there’s a lot of people hunting for business. There’s nothing wrong with legitimate contractors looking for work but we’re concerned about the fly-by-night folks.”

Anthony said she heard reports of contractors canvassing damaged neighborhoods, posting ads and knocking on doors.

“We’re urging consumers not to sign contracts on the spot,” she said. “If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”