Saturday, April 10, 1999

Adjusters quick to arrive at disaster

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Two of Cincinnati's largest insurers expect homeowners and companies to report by next week tens of millions of dollars in tornado damage.

        Ohio Casualty Corp. and Cincinnati Financial will end up paying claims after heavy winds destroyed everything from homes to businesses to apartment complexes.

        “We have a lot of policyholders out there who are in trouble, and we're going to help them the best we can,” said Cindy Denney, spokeswoman at Hamilton-based Ohio Casualty.

        Storm losses are expected to include major structural damage to the Shops at Harper's Point in Symmes Township, as well as broken windows and roofs lifted off expensive homes in Blue Ash.

        Mike Gagnon, property claims manager at Cincinnati Insurance Co., a unit of Cincinnati Financial, said his office Friday received 120 to 125 claims with estimated losses of $5 million to $6 million. He said most of the damage reported was to homes. But Mr. Gagnon expects more claims by next week.

        “We definitely expect the number to grow, but we don't know to what point,” he said. “The claims have been com ing in at a slow pace, probably because people are having a hard time communicating.”

        He said Cincinnati Insurance will have 30 to 33 claims representatives working with agents and policyholders to help the insured, help people file claims and assess damage.

        Ms. Denney of Ohio Casualty expects the property and casualty insurer to have “all kinds of losses,” including claims being filed for damage to cars, homes, businesses and apartment buildings.

        She said the carrier has not been able to assess the losses it might incur because many of the company's adjusters could not get to damaged areas.

        Ms. Denney said the company expects to have several losses from buildings it insures that are part of the Harper's Point shopping area.

        She also said Ohio Casualty insures buildings at the Harper's Point apartment complex in Symmes Township. She said there were reports of roofs being ripped off.

        “We had adjusters just getting in there around noon, even though we dispatched catastrophe teams as early as 7 a.m.,” she said.

        Insurance experts suggested that if homeowners and business owners are able to make temporary repairs to protect their property from further damage without endangering themselves, they should do so.

        For example: Cover exposed portions of roofs with heavy-duty tarps and board up broken windows.

        Then start a list of problems and issues that need to be repaired.

        But insurance executives said their main priority is to get help to individuals.

        “Our main concern is making sure people are safe and get the help they need,” Mr. Gagnon said. “We'll take care of the claims, but we want to help them all we can first.”


Hope emerges from the rubble
Sirens worked, but some slept through
Families flew from their beds
Bengals coach: 'God's hand on me'
Driver got upside-down trip on freeway median
Photographer encounters death, devastation
House is a cheap price to pay for life
Community safe, serene and vulnerable
In Addyston and Ripley County, some feel blessed just to be alive
Survivors eager to swap stories
Two died in field; two died on roads
- Adjusters quick to arrive at disaster
To file a claim
Dealing with storm aftermath
Don't rush repairs after storm
Tips to picking a contractor
Kids need help to overcome grief, fears
Talking to kids
Phones, power out until Sunday
Rescue team did tough job
Storm could spur support for tax levy
Storms' memories linger after damage is repaired
Mobilization was instant
Tornado tales
TV/radio stations had reason to boast
Volunteers grab chain saws, mops as workers untangle wires
At least 7 businesses destroyed
911 calls reveal confusion, fear