State Farm says it has received more than 80,000 claims from Superstorm Sandy and has taken to the sky to get policyholders to report more.
About 68,500 homeowners claims have been received as of Nov. 5. Another 12,900 automobile claims have come in since Sandy made landfall last Monday, reports an email from company spokeswoman Holly Anderson.
“In an effort to make sure we are reaching every customer,” State Farm got planes and attached a banner to them with the company’s claims number, says Anderson. “One plane will cover Staten Island, Long Island, Metro New York City coastal areas, and 5-10 miles inland from the coast—as well as up and down the Hudson River. A second plane will cover the coast of New Jersey and 5-10 miles inland from the coast, everything Ocean City and north (including Hoboken).”
This is the first time State Farm has used this method after a storm on the East Coast, says Anderson. "We're exhausting every avenue to help our customers recover from this devastating storm," she says.
Ironically the sound of these planes is familiar to anyone who has ever enjoyed the New Jersey shore—the area where Sandy made landfall a week ago. During the summer banner planes travel up and down the New Jersey coastline tugging signs advertising everything from what’s happening at local clubs to cosmetic surgeries and attorney services.
State Farm, the top writer of homeowners insurance in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, says about 54,000 homeowners claims are from these states. Another 5,600 are from Maryland.
New York leads among states reporting auto claims so far, with 7,300. New Jersey has added 3,000 auto claims to the company’s total as of Nov. 5 but it is also the first day in which many New Jersey coastal homeowners are allowed to return to their homes. Since the storm, authorities kept residents out due to potentially unsafe conditions.
Anderson says State Farm has claims teams on the ground and has set up mobile claims sites in Atlantic, Bergen and Morris counties in New Jersey; Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, N.Y.; Monroe and Westchester counties in New York; Delaware, Cumberland, Allegheny and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania; and New Haven County in Connecticut.
Nationwide has received more than 25,000 claims since Sandy—with more than 7,200 coming from New York and about 7,400 from Pennsylvania.
“We’re addressing our hardest-hit policyholders first,” says Nationwide spokeswoman Elizabeth Stelzer. “Those homes with a tree through a wall, an exposed roof, or other claims in which the home has become uninhabitable, are the priority. Claims associates are also focusing efforts in those communities with the greatest concentration of property damage.”
As many insurers do, Nationwide encourages homeowners to make inventory lists and make temporary repairs, if it is safe to do so, to prevent more damage.
Stelzer says Nationwide has also set up several humanitarian stations—open to anyone—across the east coast to dole out water and other emergency supplies as well as antibacterial wipes, personal hygiene items and other goods.