Insurance companies handle high volume of claims a week after derecho slammed Iowa

Weather News

DES MOINES, Iowa– It’s been a week since a derecho struck Iowa, leaving major damages in its wake. Now local insurance companies are working overtime to help Iowans recover.

Insurance companies are seeing a flood of claims coming in, mainly involving tree limbs falling on houses, cars, garages, and even a few claims about spoiled refrigerated products. Some companies had the bonus challenge of assisting clients without power.

“It was quite the challenge for us because our office had no internet phones or power,” President of the Davis Insurance Agency, Chris Bentzinger said. “By the end of the day Tuesday, there were 80 voicemails waiting in a queue of people that weren’t able to get through on the phones.” 

A Des Moines State Farm office said they were lucky to still have power, but the volume of calls was still difficult to handle. Agent, Tim Ford, said they received between 400 and 500 calls by Wednesday.

Ford said they didn’t receive any reports involving serious or fatal injuries. However, in his 30 years of being an agent, Ford has never seen anything like the derecho.  He describes it as a storm the insurance industry was not prepared for.

“The sheer size and magnitude of it is something that we just haven’t seen or could prepare for as an industry really,” Ford said. “I think that’s what makes them different. A tornado is really localized, you know, maybe it’s a mile or two wide. This one seemed to be a lot wider than that.”

Ford said because insurance companies were unfamiliar with the derecho, it helped that many people were home due to the pandemic. 

“A lot more people were probably home than at work when it hit. So they were able to ascertain damage, take steps to protect property, get a call into us sooner,” Ford said. 

Ford said State Farm has brought in 350 claim adjusters from its national catastrophe team to handle the high volume of business in Iowa. They are currently prioritizing claims by the severity of the damage. However, Ford said they have been in contact with every client impacted by the storm.

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