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Damage survey

Insurance companies fielding loss claims

By Casey Ross
Globe Staff / August 29, 2011

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Insurance companies yesterday began the work of assessing widespread damage from Hurricane Irene, fielding calls from scores of Massachusetts residents and business owners reporting everything from collapsed roofs to smashed cars to spoiled food from prolonged power outages.

Travelers Insurance Companies Inc. has deployed dozens of employees to the state as part of a much broader mobilization all along the East Coast. A company spokesman said last night that customers were calling with an array of issues after wind and heavy rain damaged houses and businesses across the state.

“Mainly right now we’re just getting in touch with folks to make sure everyone’s OK and begin the process of helping them rebuild,’’ said Matt Bordonaro. “Most of what we’re seeing is wind damage, but we’re seeing some interior water damage as well.’’

Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. was urging customers to report claims as soon as it is safely possible. The company said on its website that it has dispatched hundreds of representatives.

The company has dispatched an RV to the mid-Atlantic region to assist in handling customer claims, said Glenn Greenberg, a spokesman for Liberty Mutual.

While the hurricane did not have the impact in the Bay State some had anticipated, it still packed destructive winds that ripped the siding off homes and businesses and caused severe flooding in Western Massachusetts. It hit the state just months after tornadoes ripped through Springfield and other western communities.

The storm’s impact on businesses was expected to be especially severe, as it forced many to close on one of the busiest weekends of the year, when they were expecting a rush of late-summer business.

State officials said that some of the largest tourist attractions shut their doors, including the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Six Flags near Springfield, and the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield. After the June 1 tornadoes, insurers received 1,000 commercial claims totaling $20 million, state officials said.

The state’s Division of Insurance is advising property owners affected by the storm to

■ Contact your insurance company as soon as possible;

■ Do not make permanent repairs until the adjuster has inspected the property, but do take action to prevent further damage, like covering holes in the roof or removing water.

■ Take pictures of storm-related damage to your property or belongings, particularly if you must throw away items of value that are bacteria-laden.

■ Keep a record of all your receipts and document any time you spent securing your property, as well as your conversations with the insurance company.