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Insurance Agents On Standby For Ice Storm

By Wesley Brown, The Augusta Chronicle, Ga.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Feb. 11--Representatives from local insurance companies said Tuesday they are mobilizing resources and putting agents on standby for yet another round of what national experts are calling the "costliest year for winter weather peril since 2011."

Impact Forecasting, a catastrophe modeling center in Chicago, estimated last week in its monthly global report that during January a series of powerful winter storms cost the U.S. $3 billion in direct economic losses and $1.4 billion in insured losses.

Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting's senior scientist and meteorologist, said that with record-setting temperatures and above-average snow and ice totals continuing to sweep the nation, physical damages and business disruption costs should serve as a reminder to insurers that winter-weather risks "remain significant."

Local insurers said the meteorologist's message was loud and clear.

"Our agents are working to get messages and tips out to our customers," said Elizabeth Stelzer, spokeswoman for Nationwide Insurance. "Whether via e-mail, social media, in person or the phone -- tips such as how to deal with hazardous driving, freezing pipes, power outages, alternative heating sources can all be helpful in these conditions. Our first top concern is the well-being and safety of those in the community."

Justin Tomczak, spokesman for State Farm Insurance, said the provider mobilized additional resources to Georgia during the storm in late January and stands ready to do so again should the weather take a turn for the worse.

Should an accident occur, State Farm policyholders are asked to call their agent or(800)-SF-CLAIM to report damage. They can also visit www.statefarm.com.

"The sooner a customer gets the claim started, the faster we can help get their claim processed and get them back on their feet," Tomczak said. "We are helping our customers recover from the recent storm and we are here for them this week regardless of what the weather holds."

Daniel Groce, spokesman for Allstate Insurance Co., said the provider is also working to get the word out about how to prepare for the storm, but that right now, the company's primary concern is the safety of its policyholders.

"It is too soon to know the number of claims we expect to receive, but we are ready to work closely with customers who may be in affected areas and help guide them through the process if they have a claim," Groce said.

Groce said Allstate customers whose homes or automobiles have been damaged by this winter weather can reach Allstate by calling (800) 54-STORM, contacting any Allstate Agent or visiting Allstate.com.

Nationwide customers are asked to call (800) 421-3535 or visit Nationwide.com.

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(c)2014 The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.)

Visit The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.) at chronicle.augusta.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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