COLUMBUS — Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Director of the Department of Insurance Mary Taylor is lending a helping hand to the residents of Alabama as they continue to clean up and start to rebuild following a series of severe storms and tornadoes last month that killed hundreds of people and caused billions of dollars in damages.
Taylor has sent two employees of the Ohio Department of Insurance to assist Alabama residents navigate the insurance claims process during this difficult time. Leonette Hollingsworth, an insurance complaint analyst in the Consumer Services Division, and Robert Kelley, an insurance contract analyst in the Product Regulation and Actuarial Services Division, are providing assistance in Alabama through Sunday, June 12.
“It is important to help our friends in Alabama as they struggle to cope with the loss of family, friends, homes and property.” Taylor said. “I am pleased to loan the expertise of Ohio’s Insurance Department to an area hard hit by the wrath of Mother Nature. Leonette and Robert will be valuable in Alabama as they coordinate consumer assistance efforts and help victims with the claims process.”
Thunderstorms, severe winds and tornadoes slammed Alabama and three other states on Wednesday, April 27. According to the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, 238 people were killed. Alabama Insurance Commissioner Jim L. Ridling estimates that the storms caused between 2-to-5 billion dollars in damage.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is coordinating the resources of several state insurance departments to aid in Alabama’s recovery and has provided funding for employee travel and accommodations.
Disaster centers have been set up throughout the state as well to assist those impacted by the storms. Insurance department employees from outside Alabama are helping by responding to general inquiries and collecting insurance claim information. Volunteers work one-week tours in specific areas throughout the state.
"The overwhelming response from my fellow state regulators is a heartening endorsement of our collaboration, especially during difficult times," said Ridling. "Governor Robert Bentley joins me in expressing our gratitude to our fellow insurance departments for providing professional insurance consumer assistance to our citizens."
More recently, a massive, F5 tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri on Sunday, May 22 leaving a path of destruction nearly a mile wide and causing an estimated 4-to-7 billion dollars in damage, according to AIR Worldwide, a modeling firm based in Boston. Taylor says she would be more than willing to join forces with other state insurance departments to provide assistance there as needed.