Insurance agents advise speed

March 7, 2007

Americus --  Hundreds of property damage claims are pouring into south Georgia insurance agencies as a result of Thursday's F-3 tornado.  State Farm Insurance has had 320 claims filed in Americus and Sumter County alone.  That number is expected to reach as high as 500 claims. 

If you have storm damage and you haven't filed a claim yet Insurance agents say don't wait.  This homeowner did exactly what they should have a tree that split their home in two has been removed and the house has been tarped, and until an agent comes out to inspect the damage, that's the best a homeowner can do.

State Farm Claim Representative Jason Norton is on top of the problem many homeowners in Sumter County are having.  "I'm going to measure each different slope on the roof, to come up with the total slope of it."

The tornado that roared past the Barksdale's Thursday night may have damaged shingles.  It ripped apart their chimney, broke windows, tore off a section of siding and punched several holes in the home.

"I'm going to take a photo of the top of the chimney here there's a tree that blew in and hit his chimney and took off part of the top of the chimney," Norton said.

Precise measurements are taken so a mason will know, just what he needs to fix the problem.  Billy Barksdale had already repaired some of his broken windows before his agent arrived, exactly what Norton says homeowners need to do, take the necessary steps to protect their home.  Most of the damage Norton has seen is roof related.

"Most of what I've been seeing has been, large trees on roofs, several trusses or rafters broken, a lot of interior damage," Norton said. 

After a thorough inspection of the Barksdale's, "It looks like there is some siding damage so I just want to make sure I get all the measurements."

It's not as bad as their neighbors. "We were very fortunate," says Homeowner Jane Barksdale. "We're kind of sitting down in a hole and I think it shaded us a lot."

Because the damage wasn't as severe the Barksdale's claim was settled today, but had the damage been worse it may have taken some time.

"You can't see all the damage, you can't see through the walls, you can't see through the roof , so on that initial inspection we try and get everything that we see, as the best we can," Norton said.

Insurance companies suggest filing a claim no matter how minimal you think your damage may be, today the agent pointed out to us, damage like this home is obvious, but the little things add up to and before you know it you may be well over your deductible so they say it's best to file the claim.

The Barksdales had a lot of yard damage; a chain link fence in their back yard was also destroyed in the tornado.  The good news is damages to items like a fence is also covered in a homeowner's policy.