WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 30, 2007—Trusted Choice® agents, along with the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) and IBA West, have teamed up to aid California residents in need in the aftermath of the devastating wildfires.
IBA West has been coordinating efforts with the Big “I”, the Insurance Industry Communications Group, as well as the Office of the California Insurance Commissioner. IBA West is part of the insurance industry's coordinated disaster response team managed by the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC). Trusted Choice® agents and IBA West have helped consumers at The Office of Emergency Services Local Assistance Centers which provide disaster victims with one-stop assistance from a variety of government agencies, businesses and charities. In addition, IBA West and the Big “I” have been a voice for the industry in the media, appearing on CNN and in local and national print publications to better educate consumers on the claims process. Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I” President & CEO, appeared on CNN Saturday and Sunday informing consumers on the claims process and coverage issues, both for the present and future. IBA West has also created a comprehensive consumer insurance guide titled, “Southern California Fires, The Recovery Process Begins.” The guide covers guidelines to coverage including homeowners, renters, auto, and coverage for motor homes, RV’s, trailers, and watercraft. For more information and to view the guide, go to www.ibawest.com.
“We are helping put people’s lives back together in Southern California. That’s what Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents do,” said Rusbuldt.
“It is always great to see people coming together to help others during such a tough time,” said Clark Payan, AAI, AIM, IBA West CEO. “With all of the questions victims will face going forward, their insurance claim should not be one of them.”
While the wildfires are becoming more contained, there is now an increased risk of flooding due to the bare mountain hillsides. The Big “I” encourages consumers to call their independent agent to inquire about flood insurance, which is not included in a standard homeowners policy.
Trusted Choice® agents have been on the ground helping agencies assist customers with their claims. And Trusted Choice® is ready to provide financial assistance to the affected area as well. The Trusted Choice® Disaster Relief Fund helps independent agents, their customers and their communities during times of catastrophes. For more information on how to apply for a grant go to www.independentagent.com. To make a tax-free contribution to the fund, please send to:
The Trusted Choice® Disaster Relief Fund
127 South Peyton Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
For more information on how to apply for a grant or make a tax-free contribution to the fund, go to www.independentagent.com.
Here are some tips to help consumers better prepare for disaster-related losses:
Be prepared for ANY LOSS BEFORE THE LOSS by having all your important insurance documentation in ONE place that you can easily pick up and take with you in the event that you have to leave your home quickly. Items included should be:
Copies of all your personal identification and credit card numbers
Health insurance cards and copies of prescriptions
Copies of all your insurance documentation including phone numbers for agent, policy numbers, etc.
Travelers checks for emergencies
A listing of important telephone numbers and contacts
Sit down with your agent at least once a year and review your coverage in detail. Know your policy limits and discuss how to best insure special items or valuables. Discuss a home inventory and a basic disaster plan for your family with your agent. They are a great resource for ensuring that you have the coverage that you need and can provide an enormous amount of helpful information and loss prevention tips for your use.
Understand how your policy will provide for you and your family in the event that you are unable to return to your home as a result of a mandated evacuation or a partial or total loss of your home. Many homeowner’s policies will provide for your increased living costs while you are displaced. Know how this works and what steps you must follow to receive the coverage.
Get clear instructions from your agent on what do in the event of a loss. Who should be called, what can you do to ensure that the loss is contained, what documentation will be needed, what to expect from the claims process.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.