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Insurance department encourages preparedness ahead of severe weather season

This week is Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week.

This week is Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week, and the North Dakota Insurance Department is marking the occasion by encouraging residents to take steps to prepare.

Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread says this is a good time of year for consumers to review their current policies, consider adding flood insurance and take an inventory of everything in their home and on their property. He says it could be as simple as walking around your home taking photos, or using an app to document your belongings.

"Keeping that inventory updated will really save you a lot of time, a lot of headache and heartache on the back end should something happen. So as we are looking for preparing for severe storms this summer, as we always have some severe thunderstorms and some hail and wind, it's always a good idea to be ahead of the game on that. It's also good to prepare your property; you can clean out your gutters and do some of that spring maintenance that goes along with a house that can mitigate damage should a severe storm happen."

Godfread says homeowners may have discovered their insurance rates have significantly increased this year. He says that’s the result of several factors coming together; effects from the pandemic, inflation and the overall increase of severe weather events nationwide. He says North Dakota’s rates are on the lower end of the national average – but everyone’s rates, everywhere, have gone up.

"My role as insurance commissioner is to ensure that not only are our companies solvent and able to pay those claims should those events happen, but also treating consumers fairly. It's a balancing act of making sure a company can maintain enough revenue in order to run their company, while also trying to limit the impact to North Dakotans. And you don't have to look too far away from the headlines to see that there are some significant, larger insurance companies that have been losing billions of dollars the last couple of years given the increased severity and frequency of storms - and that all is coming back in now into the rates, as we look at, how do we go forward and adjust for the inflationary times we are in."

Godfread says a post-disaster claims checklist is available to North Dakotans on the North Dakota Insurance Department’s website.