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Governor Beebe's Weekly Column and Radio Address: Helping Insured Arkansans

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Arkansas is in the middle of severe weather season, and we've received strong reminders of that throughout the past month. This week, I've asked Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford to talk about how the Arkansas Insurance Department serves Arkansans, both in times of disaster, and when other insurance issues arise.

Following storms and floods such as those that we've seen in our state in recent weeks, the Arkansas Insurance Department's Consumers Services Division receives an influx of storm-related calls. A major storm can cause the kind of catastrophic damage to our homes or businesses the likes of which few of us have experienced. Insurance companies are already processing thousands of Arkansas claims from recent storms.

Consumer Services is here to help you navigate the claims process. In 2009, the CSD recovered more than $14 million that Arkansas insurance consumers were entitled to but would not have received without assistance.

After a storm, consumers should be aware of scammers who often canvas damaged neighborhoods offering repair services. Please check to make sure that anyone you hire to repair storm damage is licensed and bonded. I also encourage you to request references and be sure to check them.

Also, never pay for work before it has been completed. Customarily, your insurance company will make the claims check out to both you and your mortgage company or you and your contractor.

I also want to remind you that insurance adjusters are licensed by the Arkansas Insurance Department. Please make sure you are working with a licensed adjuster who represents your insurance company. Public adjusters who work for themselves on a commission basis are not legal in Arkansas.

Let me stress that the Consumer Services Division is available to work with consumers on any insurance-related topic, not just those related to storms. If you have questions about your homeowners or auto insurance, give them a call. If you want to check the license of an insurance agent or adjuster, give them a call. If you feel you are entitled to more compensation for a claim than your insurance company is offering, give them a call. The number for Consumer Services is 1-800-852-5494.

Senior Arkansans, especially those on Medicare or about to become eligible for Medicare, can contact our Senior Health Insurance Information Program for information, known by its acronym, SHIIP. SHIIP is available to provide counseling and assistance to people with Medicare on such topics as life, health, and other specialty insurance policies as well as referrals to Medicaid and other public benefits and services. SHIIP also provides detailed information on Medicare Supplement plans such as the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. For those approaching 65, SHIIP travels the state with its Medicare Maze program, which provides a variety of useful information. If you want to know when a Medicare Maze program might be planned in your community, call 1-800-224-6330.

Your Arkansas Insurance Department is here to work for you and I encourage you to call us at 1-800-852-5494 anytime you have an insurance problem you want to discuss. Thank you.


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