By Cosby Woodruff –
Georgia insurance companies and regulators have swarmed to the Georgia coast following Hurricane Matthew’s visit to the area earlier this month.
State insurance commissioner Ralph Hudgens’ office did not have damage estimates Friday afternoon, but State Farm, the state’s largest insurer, said claims were piling up. The company has sent extra claims agents to the coast to handle the load.
Hudgens also has been a repeat visitor to the coastal communities since the storm and will be there Tuesday and Wednesday to assist residents with insurance claims.
“Thousands of Georgians have suffered tremendous losses, and we are here to help them on the road to recovery,” Hudgens said in a release on his department’s response to the storm. “I encourage all policyholders who have insurance questions or need help filing a claim to visit our village.”
He will host an insurance village at a Home Depot location at 11180 Abercorn Street in Savannah on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Those unable to attend the insurance village may contact the department by phone for assistance.
“Our Hurricane Hotline is open at 1-800-656-2298,” Commissioner Hudgens said. “Whether you need help contacting your insurance company, filing a claim or resolving a complaint, insurance department specialists are ready to help.”
Justin Tomczak, state spokesman for State Farm, said the insurer received more than 5,000 claims related to Matthew in the first few days after the storm. Damages to buildings, from wind, water and falling trees, made up about 90 percent of those claims. The remainder were for damages to cars, mostly from flooding.
Those claims, he said, would continue to come in for weeks.
“We do expect it to continue to rise,” he said. “There is a little bit of a lag due to people evacuating their homes.”
As is normal for large-scale natural disasters, State Farm sent staff to speed up claims processing. This includes mobile claim sites in Brunswick and Savannah.
“We have added extra resources on the ground,” Tomczak said. It is adjusters and claims professionals.”