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Hurricane Irma caused more than one-third of all Florida Conference churches to make claims for damages.
In a year when so many natural disasters have challenged insurance adjusters, the conference has been working with its churches to move claims forward as quickly as possible, according to LaNita Battles, AINS, director of Ministry Protection (Risk Management).
As of mid-November, 254 claims have been reported. These are being handled by the conference’s third-party administrator, Atlanta-based Crawford & Company, a provider of claims management services. Battles said that insurance companies today are dealing with an unusually large number of claims as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, along with wildfires in California and an earthquake in Mexico.
“This has been a very bad year for claims, and a lot of commercial adjusters (like Crawford & Company) are spread very thin,” she said.
To date, about 10 of the 254 claims have been processed, Battles reported.
To alleviate some of the outstanding claims, the conference has come up with a fast-track claims system for smaller losses. In some cases, entire church campuses may have been affected.
But churches with less than $50,000 in damages, where no flooding was involved, are being asked to forward claims directly through this system. This will allow them to get repairs done more quickly.
The process involves filling out forms, getting two estimates from licensed contractors and taking photos of the damage. These items can then submitted to Ministry Protection Claims Specialist Brian Donivan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or churches can call 800-282-8011, ext. 175. Donivan will review these claims and pass them along to Crawford & Company for final settlement.
Meanwhile, churches will not have to wait for an adjuster to get started on repairs. Nearly a dozen churches have already begun working with this plan, according to Battles.
Asked to name those areas hardest hit in the conference, Battles said that Irma was a storm that wreaked havoc in just about every area of the state, from the west coast to the east coast and locations in between.
“I’ve been in the insurance industry for 30-plus years and with the conference for 12 years, and I’ve never seen damage so widespread,” she said. “Irma really affected all of the conference. When you have one-third of our churches report claims, that says a lot. We’re hoping that the fast-track program can help move some of these along, and people can begin recovery,” she added.
“Catastrophes are always devastating, but this one was particularly devastating because it was so widespread. We will keep in touch with all our churches and with Crawford Services and take care of the claims,” Battle said.
--Anne Dukes is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.
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