Insurer’s 24-Hour, Toll-Free Hotline Active For Customer Damage Claims
HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — As Hurricane Katrina approaches the southeast coast of the United States, with its ultimate track still uncertain, The Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE:HIG) , cautions homeowners and business owners to take precautionary steps to prevent injury and minimize potential damage from the oncoming storm.
Robert Wilkey, The Hartford’s assistant vice president of catastrophe claim management, says the personal safety of customers is the primary concern and urges residents of the affected areas to follow safety directives issued by public authorities.
“People with adequate insurance can replace almost anything, and we’ll help our customers do just that after the storm, but lives can’t be replaced,” Wilkey said. “We urge everyone in the hurricane’s path to safeguard their well-being and heed the advice of local emergency management officials before, during and after a storm.”
The Hartford has a catastrophe claim team on standby ready to move quickly into the damaged areas to begin processing claims, if necessary. Safety and claim information is also available by clicking the Catastrophe Information Center link on http://www.thehartford.com/. The Web site also provides sound advice to prepare for and deal with the impact of a catastrophic event. Additionally, the company’s representatives at its toll-free, 24-hour claim number are prepared for additional customer calls resulting from the storm. Customers can report damages to 1-800-243-5860, any time of the day or night.
The Hartford’s Wilkey advises that there are three key phases of preparation that customers should follow in the advance of an oncoming storm: create an inventory of material or property that may become damaged; secure your home or business to limit damage during a storm; and exercise caution when returning to a home or business after a storm to prevent injuries or further damage.
Create an inventory well before a storm strikes
* Use a video or still camera to create a visual record of your belongings
that might be damaged or lost during a catastrophe. Update this visual
record periodically, especially after making improvements to your home
or business or after making a major purchase or receiving a gift of
* Create a written list of your inventory to accompany your visual
reference. Retain receipts for valuable items, if possible, and note
makes, models, serial numbers, dates of purchase and other relevant
information in your list.
* Store visual and written records, or copies of them, away from your home
or business in a secure location, such as a safe deposit box.
Secure your property in advance of an oncoming storm
* Store outdoor furniture or signage inside your home or business. In high
winds, these items can become flying missiles.
* Close storm shutters over windows. If you do not have storm shutters,
you may want to install plywood or place masking tape over windows to
minimize flying glass.
* Secure sheds and carports. Sheds, carports, barns and other unstable
structures may be blown down in strong winds.
* Park your vehicles in a garage, if possible, rather than a carport. If
no garage is available, park it away from trees whose falling branches
may cause damage.
* Keep tree branches away from your home or business. Make trees more wind
resistant by removing diseased or damaged limbs.
* Be sure you have an emergency supply of food and water, as well as a
first aid kit, fully charged fire extinguisher, flashlights with fresh
batteries, a portable radio with fresh batteries, necessary items for
infants or disabled family members, warm clothing, a cellular phone, if
available, and emergency phone numbers.
* Fill your car with gas.
* Heed evacuation notices from public authorities, and make certain you
know the evacuation route. If evacuation is not possible or advised, go
to an established shelter or sheltered location.
* Secure important documents, such as your home inventory and insurance
policies, in a safe, accessible place. Keep personal identification
with you as it will be needed to receive a claim check for insurance
coverage, if needed.
* If you are evacuated, unplug all appliances before leaving your
residence and shut off electricity, gas and water to your home or
business to help mitigate damages. Lock windows and doors.
Exercise caution when returning to your home or business
* Follow any safety directives issued by public authorities.
* Cover all damaged openings with heavy plastic until your insurance claim
* Do not touch any downed or loose wires.
* Do not attempt to remove branches or trees that have fallen on your home
* If you smell gas, get out of the premises immediately; do not attempt to
find or fix the problem.
* Do not cook on a gas or charcoal grill inside your home.
“Natural catastrophes, such as hurricanes, can easily do great damage to property, but they can just as easily upend lives if the right precautions are not taken before, during and after a storm,” said Wilkey, noting that most physical damage from storms can be quickly repaired if the right insurance is in place beforehand, thereby avoiding some of the heartache that comes in the aftermath of these events. “The Hartford strongly encourages business and homeowners to talk with their insurance agent to determine if they are adequately insured to quickly recover if a catastrophe strikes.”
The Hartford is one of the nation’s largest financial services and insurance companies, with 2004 revenues of $22.7 billion. The company is a leading provider of investment products, life insurance and group benefits; automobile and homeowners products; and business property-casualty insurance. The Hartford’s Internet address is http://www.thehartford.com/.
Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our 2004 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.
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