Storms raise insurance rates, prompt prevention - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Storms raise insurance rates, prompt prevention

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Insured losses from Tuesday's mornings storms that ripped across Georgia are now at a whopping $50 million.

That's up from an earlier estimate of $32 million. In southwest Georgia agents are still fielding claims. If you own a home and didn't have damage you may still hear from them when your policy is up for renewal.

Agents are now inspecting for items that could damage your home ahead of the storm so you never need to make a claim.

To see what agents are talking about we need to look up. When they come out to your home, they're looking for things like a branch, hanging over, or close to your roof. If not taken care of if it forces a claim you may find yourself without insurance. Tuesday's storms tore through Georgia downing trees on fences and homes, and keeping insurance agents busy.

"Got here that morning and probably had 30 phone calls before 9:00 AM," said Al Hatcher, Al Hatcher Insurance and Financial Service Inc. a State Farm Agent.

Gail and Heinz Finley didn't have any damage, and haven't filed a claim in years.

"The reason we bought this lot is because there isn't a tree that can fall and touch this house," said Heinz Finley, an AllState Customer.

That didn't stop their insurance company from sending a letter about a month ago, raising their premiums.

"The weather patterns in Georgia are changing and we've seen record level storm events over the past few years," said Gail Finley.

"A premium increase is needed to cover future losses and remain financially strong so we can continue to provide you the protection you need," continued Gail.

Al Hatcher isn't their agent but, his company State Farm insurance is now doing preventative inspections to stay ahead of storm damage, keeping rates from rising.

"Low hanging limbs over the homes, or even a limb that's touching the roof that the customer never even pays any attention but over time as the winds blow could tear the shingles back," said Hatcher.

He recommends surge protectors on the outside meter and inside to protect electronics. Nine times of out ten, customers listen.

"If we do advise the customer that this really does need to be taken care of, if the claim comes up, if it's a qualifying claim we're going to pay the claim but we also don't want the customer to run into jeopardy of being canceled," said Hatcher.

Because in Georgia he says three claims in three years, usually leaves a customer with a canceled policy and looking at high risk premiums.

Al Hatcher says one thing agents are looking for is rotten trees, with pine beetles in southwest Georgia he says a diseased tree comes down fast in high winds doing a lot of damage. The state insurance commission reminds everyone to inventory their belongings in case of a disaster.

Agents recommend if you have minor damage less than a thousand dollars, they urge clients to consider paying for the damage to not affect your premiums.

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