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State Farm begins assessing damage caused by Hurricane Ian

Tropical Weather Florida
John Raoux/AP
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AP
University of Central Florida students use an inflatable mattress as they evacuate an apartment complex near the campus that was flooded by rain from Hurricane Ian, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/John Raoux)

State Farm has deployed its catastrophe response team from the company's Bloomington headquarters and other locations across the U.S. to Florida to assess the damage left by Hurricane Ian.

“We already have boots on the ground and looking for areas that have the most impact for claims, so we can started to get out to those areas and help people start to file their claims and begin recovery,” said Michal Brower, a State Farm spokesperson in Florida.

State Farm said it set up an orientation center in Birmingham, Alabama earlier this week in advance of the storm and that handlers have been arriving in Florida by the hundreds throughout the day Friday as hurricane moved up up the Atlantic Coast.

State Farm said as of Friday afternoon, more than 10,000 claims have been filed. Nearly half of those are for auto claims with many vehicles undriveable due to flood waters.

State Farm said the volume of claims will likely come in much higher in the coming days since nearly two million people in Florida still don't have power or cell phone service.

“It’s been several years since there’s been a huge storm like this hit the state, so this is probably going to be,I’m sure, one of the larger deployments we have for Florida,” Brower said.

StateFarmBirmingham.jpg
State Farm
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Claims representatives deploy laptops, printers and other tools to respond to affected customers at the State Farm Orientation Center for Hurricane Ian in Birmingham, Ala.

Brower said State Farm is setting up customer response units to drive into harder-hit areas and it's deploying aerial imaging to assess damage in some parts of Florida that were evacuated and aren't yet safe to return.

State Farm stopped offering property insurance policies in Florida in 2009 after the state rejected a large rate hike. The insurer started writing new policies in Florida about five years later.

“The Florida homeowners insurance market is a challenging one, but we do remain here for sure,” Brower said.

At least 21 people have died as a result of the hurricane as the storm moves north into Georgia and regained strength as it hit South Carolina.

Country Financial, also based in Bloomington, has insurance customers in Georgia, but a spokesperson said it’s too soon to assess Ian’s damage there.

“The damage caused by Hurricane Ian to Florida is devastating. Our thoughts are with those impacted by this storm, including those in South Carolina as the storm makes landfall again today,” spokesperson Chris Coplan said in a statement. “We continue to monitor this event and any impact on our clients in Georgia, ready to assist as needed.”

As of Friday afternoon, reported damage in Georgia was minimal.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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