The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 9, 2013

State: Claims for 2011 storm now more than $1.65 billion

Insured losses in Joplin on track to total $2 billion

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin tornado, the largest insurance event in Missouri history, is still on track to rack up a $2 billion price tag.

As of Oct. 31, losses paid by insurance companies on 19,870 private and commercial claims totaled $1.65 billion.

“We still think it will be in the $2 billion range,” said John M. Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, in a telephone interview Wednesday.

For 18 months after the May 2011 tornado, Huff said, the department required monthly reporting on the claims submitted and paid by the state’s insurance companies so the department, chief regulator of the industry in Missouri, could accurately assess “the movement in Joplin” to ensure that pending claims were being paid in a timely manner.

That reporting from the companies concluded on Oct. 31, but the department is still monitoring the situation.

“We lasered in on the personal lines to make sure individual consumers were being handled in a timely basis,” Huff said. “That is wrapping up very nicely. For all practical purposes, that is done. If a property owner has an issue that needs to be addressed, they should contact our customer affairs division.”

For residential property, the insurance companies have responded to 8,647 claims and paid out $535.7 million. That amount reflects how much insurance money, in total, will be available to rebuild and repair damaged homes in connection with the Joplin tornado.

For private auto coverage, the companies have responded to 6,982 claims and paid $47.9 million.

Those totals reflect figures as of Oct. 31.

The $535.7 million paid for losses connected to residential property has helped fund the construction of new houses at a steady rate in Joplin and the area since the tornado, said Crystal Harrington, director of the Home Builders Association of Southwest Missouri.

“It’s been steady, but there’s still a significant number of permits being issued to charities and not-for-profits,” she said. “For every two houses built by marketplace builders, one is built by a charity or not-for-profit group, such as Samaritan’s Purse or Habitat for Humanity. It’s steady, but not booming.”

She said some people who have received settlements from their insurance companies for a lost home have been reluctant to rebuild because of uncertainty about the federal “fiscal cliff” negotiations and whether Joplin’s tax increment financing district would be approved.

“Those things have influenced the decision-making process,” she said. “People with residential property along the 20th Street corridor have decided to hang back and see what happens. They will eventually decide to either rebuild or go somewhere else.”

Harrington said builders are constructing new homes in Webb City and Carl Junction, too, and many of them are being occupied by Joplin residents with settlements from their insurance companies.

“A significant number of people have moved to Webb City and Carl Junction,” she said. “Our building boom will come in a year or so when Mercy Hospital Joplin is being finished. We believe a first-rate, high-tech hospital will bring with it a large influx of high-tech jobs to Joplin.”

It is the claims connected to commercial property that eventually will push the total to $2 billion, Huff said.

“They take longer because commercial claims often involve complicated coverage issues and larger individual losses,” he said, noting that commercial claims often are adjudicated for the loss associated with interrupted services.

“We are monitoring those, and they are progressing well,” he said. “The industry response has been commendable, and we are comfortable with where they are.”

As of Oct. 31, for commercial property, the insurance companies have responded to 2,142 claims and paid losses of $986.8 million. Commercial auto and other commercial losses have generated 622 claims and paid losses of $19.4 million.

The Joplin tornado pushed Barton County Mutual Insurance Co. to the brink of insolvency. It had premiums of $32 million in 2011 but reported claims of $48 million related to the tornado.

The company, which was placed under the control of the Missouri Department of Insurance, is now in better financial condition. At the department’s request, a Barton County judge has released the company from the department’s control.

“Keeping the company in business to serve rural Missourians was a top priority for the department,” Huff said. “Through an innovative arrangement with the Missouri Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association, along with significant underwriting and management changes overseen by the department, Barton is now poised for a long and prosperous future.

“This is a win for policyholders, agents, the insurance industry and the city of Liberal, where Barton is the largest employer.”

The insurance company has about 29,000 policyholders.

A member of the town’s Board of Aldermen, who asked that his name not be used, said that after the school district, Barton Mutual is the largest employer in Liberal, which had a population of 759 in 2010.

The situation involving Barton Mutual led to the passage of new legislation in Missouri, effective Jan. 1.

“The reinsurance requirements that took effect on Jan. 1 mean that there will never be another single event that causes that much shock to one of the companies,” Huff said. “A company can no longer lose more than 20 percent of their surplus or shareholder equity. They have to have reinsurance to cover that.”

The new legislation affected 83 county mutual agencies in Missouri, according to a department spokesman. Those companies had 1,477 tornado claims totaling $61.8 million.

Hot line

CONSUMERS OR INSURANCE AGENTS with questions about Barton County Mutual Insurance Co. or their insurance company may contact the Department of Insurance Consumer Hot Line at 800-726-7390 or visit insurance.mo.gov.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • State audit of Joplin School District begins

    Staff members from the state auditor’s office have begun their audit of the Joplin School District, Superintendent C.J. Huff said Monday. They are expected to be in the district four days per week for the next five to six months, or perhaps longer, until the audit is complete, Huff said.

    July 21, 2014

  • Burglary conviction draws shock prison time

    A Joplin man who received 120 days of shock incarceration time Friday in a drunken-driving case in Jasper County Circuit Court was assessed a concurrent sentence Monday in a burglary case.

    July 21, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Family gatherings mirror circle of life

    The annual family gathering is getting bigger. There tends to be an ebb and a flow to most family gatherings. When you’re a kid, and especially if you’re a kid from a large Catholic family, the gatherings seem to be huge.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • 071714 Jasper Cty Dispatch1_72.jpg Area communities, Jasper County work to improve communications

    The first law enforcement officer to respond to a fatal shooting last November at Northpark Mall was from the Duquesne Police Department — not Joplin. Joplin police Chief Jason Burns said he wasn’t bothered by that. “We dispatch for them, and they had an officer close who could get there faster,” he said. “And getting help to people as quickly as possible is more important than jurisdictions.”

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • New and old TIF districts on agenda for Joplin council

    Another tax increment financing district is being proposed for Joplin, this one along South Main Street. The area is close to the new Mercy Hospital Joplin that is set to open next year. RKS Development is seeking authorization from the Joplin City Council when it meets Monday night to prepare a request to establish a TIF district.

    July 20, 2014

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Family grows by one — a black Lab named Raven

    If you haven’t experienced the feeling of a tiny puppy in your lap at the end of a perfect July Saturday — hammock time, s’mores, leisurely walks, you know the kind — I highly recommend it. It is pure joy.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Jo Ellis: Car show, sidewalk sale and more scheduled for weekend in Carthage

    All roads leading to Carthage should be packed this weekend as numerous events geared toward entertainment, cultural pursuits and bargain hunting are expected to pull in large crowds.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Hobby Lobby lawyer to speak at watermelon feed

    Josh Hawley, who helped represent Hobby Lobby in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on contraception requirements in the Affordable Care Act, has been added to the list of speakers for Thursday’s annual watermelon feed sponsored by Newton County Republicans.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Do you think Missouri should pass legislation that would allow a prescription drug database to be kept?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter