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Laws add protection for homeowners hit by storms

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Missouri homeowners hit by damaging storms now have more protections in place after Gov. Jay Nixon signed two pieces of legislation into law.

The laws aim to help insurance companies better serve hard-hit areas and protect consumers against unscrupulous repair contractors, according to a news release from the Missouri Department of Insurance.

Senate Bill 101 prohibits exterior repair contractors, including roofing and siding companies, from offering to pay homeowners insurance deductibles in hopes of making a sale. It also forbids repair companies from negotiating with insurers on behalf of insured homeowners.

The law will help cut down on consumer confusion about the roles of insurance company adjusters and home repair contractors, said John Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance. Huff noted that some companies call themselves “insurance claim specialists” and offer promises to get homeowners more money on their claims.

Another law, SB 132, guarantees insurance companies the ability to set up mobile service centers in storm-damaged areas so homeowners can file claims. That law makes it illegal for cities, counties or other municipalities to restrict insurance companies’ efforts to establish temporary operations solely for helping customers with claims.

“On multiple occasions in 2011, insurers were required to obtain a business license from a city before parking mobile claims trucks to serve their customers,” Huff said in the release. “The aftermath of a damaging storm is no time for unnecessary red tape. Thanks to this law, Missouri insurance companies will be able to move quickly and serve customers in their time of need.”

At Insurance.Mo.gov, the department offers online resources for both preparation for and recovery after severe weather and property damage, including pages dedicated to victims the May 22 tornado in Joplin.[[In-content Ad]]

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