Aid assistance in the wake of natural disasters comes in many forms. And as Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh reports, sometimes it involves sending qualified individuals to places like tornado-wracked Alabama to help field insurance questions.
Three employees of the Kentucky Department of Insurance will leave for Alabama on Saturday, and spend a week helping staff disaster relief centers. Alabama is still recovering from a deadly outbreak of twisters that claimed more than 230 lives. Ronda Sloan of the department says Alabama’s insurance commissioner made the appeal for help.
“Because they are just getting swamped," said Sloan. "And our understanding is that in addition to Kentucky, other states are planning to send staff members down, including Hawaii.”
Sloan says the National Association of Insurance Commissioners will cover expenses. This is not a first. Kentucky has provided sister states with similar assistance in disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Hugo.
Sloan says the Kentucky employees are packing their bags for a one week stay. They leave Saturday.
“They’ll initially fly into Birmingham and then be sent out in various places in the state where there are emergency response areas set up," said Sloan. "It could be doing anything from taking insurance claims information and assisting in that way. They could be answering general insurance-related questions from consumers - just really doing anything that they need us to help with in Alabama."
Sloan says the Kentucky workers should be able to provide myriad answers to anxious homeowners, even though state laws on insurance vary.
“Even though there would be some differences in laws between Alabama and Kentucky, a lot of those homeowners’ principles would still be the same, regardless of what state you’re in," said Sloan. "And in addition, right now I think one of the real needs is just manpower – to have people that could actually sit there and meet with consumers to help them get the process started.”
Sloan says adequate staff remains in Kentucky to assist with any needs in the commonwealth.