Jewelers Mutual begins Katrina payouts

Jewelers Mutual Insurance had paid nearly $700,000 in claims from Hurricane Katrina to commercial policyholders, as of Sept. 27. Most claims were for loss of income. Policyholders have only just started reporting claims for property damage and loss of income due to civil authority for Hurricane Rita, said the company announcement. Jewelers Mutual officials have said claims could top the $3.5 million paid out following the four hurricanes in Florida in 2004.

“We now have a disaster response team [in that area] to help our policyholders with the aftermath of both hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said Darin Kath, president and chief operating officer. “We’re prepared to help all of our customers who were affected by either of the hurricanes. Our financial stability allows us to respond to these disasters quickly and definitively,” he said.

He said it’s difficult to estimate what will be the total loss amounts from both hurricanes Katrina and Rita, until the disaster response team has seen the damage and determined the causes of loss. Prior to Hurricane Rita, the company’s disaster response team was given special permits to enter certain areas of New Orleans to determine damage to policyholders’ businesses. Then, they were ordered to leave in advance of Hurricane Rita. Now, they are returning to those sections. As soon as authorities let them to go back into the more heavily-damaged areas of New Orleans, said Kath, they’ll be ready to assist those policyholders.

To report a claim to Jewelers Mutual, contact its home office at 800-558-6411. Its claim staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Jewelers Mutual, the only company which exclusively insures jewelers and jewelry in the United States and Canada, was founded in 1913 and based in Neenah, Wis. It was recently named to the Ward Group’s top 50 U.S. insurers based on its safety, consistency, and performance. It is licensed in all 50 states and insures more than 10,000 jewelers and $1.7 billion of individuals’ jewelry.