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Montana State Insurance Experts: Don't Get Dinged by Hail Scams

PHOTO: Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen will be in Billings on Wednesday and Thursday, along with a team of state insurance experts, to meet with residents experiencing problems related to the May 18 hailstorm. Photo courtesy of Commissioner Lindeen's office.
PHOTO: Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen will be in Billings on Wednesday and Thursday, along with a team of state insurance experts, to meet with residents experiencing problems related to the May 18 hailstorm. Photo courtesy of Commissioner Lindeen's office.
July 8, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. - Montanans affected by a destructive hailstorm in May can meet with state insurance experts this week to make sure they're not taken advantage of by insurance companies or storm-chasing scammers.

State Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen is sending a team to Billings for one-on-one meetings Wednesday, July 9 and Thursday, July 10.

Jennifer McKee with the insurance commissioner's office says most claims relating to the hailstorm have been running smoothly, but she acknowledges the difficulty of navigating the system for those experiencing problems. She notes con artists have been scamming residents and insurance companies alike.

"We're especially concerned about older Montanans," McKee says. "One of the issues we'll be covering in these workshops will be how to recognize a scam."

Three "Hail Help" sessions will be held this week in Billings, with the first on Wednesday at the Billings Library at 510 N. Broadway from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The first of two Thursday sessions be held in the Seminar Room at the Montana State University Billings Extended Campus at 214 N. Broadway from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The second will be at the Billings Heights Country Inn and Suites at 23 Main St. from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Those attending should bring along copies of their insurance policies and all receipts.

Each session will begin with a presentation about "red flags" connected to scams. McKee says offers that have to be "purchased now" need extra scrutiny, as do unsolicited offers made by door-to-door representatives.

"When someone says, 'Don't even call your insurance company, I'll handle all that, you don't even worry about it, let me talk to your insurance company,' that's a red flag," cautions McKee. "Insurance companies don't work for contractors."

Those attending the sessions can also file a formal complaint against their insurance company. A complaint allows the state to work on residents' behalf with the insurer.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT