PARKERSBURG - For insurance companies, the derecho of June 2012 created a lot of work with answering calls from customers, assessing damage, determining what was covered and how they could provide assistance.
"It was a very busy time for us," said Amy Preddy, a spokesman for State Farm, the largest carrier in West Virginia.
Preddy said West Virginia was the hardest hit state physically, but due to its smaller population there were fewer claims filed in comparison to other affected regions. State Farm had more than five times the number of claims from the derecho compared to Hurricane Sandy, which occurred nearly five months later in October 2012.
In West Virginia, State Farm had approximately 5,530 property claims and approximately 1,450 auto claims as a result of the storm, Preddy said.
Associated Press reported 36,700 insurance claims were filed in the month after the storm and property owners received $87 million in insurance payments, according to the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner.
The claims have not caused an increase in premiums, said Jane Cline, former insurance commissioner and now director of public policy for the Charleston law firm Spilman Thomas and Battle, said. Legislative changes over the last 10 years have helped keep automobile and homeowner insurance rates from increasing after the storm, she said.
Preddy said the derecho and the claims from it are the reason for State Farm and similar companies to provide services. State Farm didn't have any changes in policies and guidelines in the year since it occurred.
"This is what we're here to do," she said.
Jay Jones and Gary Rhodes, both local indendent agents with Nationwide Insurance in Parkersburg, said local agents saw hundreds of claims in the aftermath of last summer's windstorm. The impact can still be felt this summer.
"I'm still -every once in a while - getting somebody calling and saying that they just found damage from last year's storm," Rhodes said.
Jones estimated that together Nationwide and State Farm had about 50 percent of the local market share and probably took the largest hit from the storms in financial terms. Physically, the storm caused problems county-wide and region-wide with downed trees and lines and damage to homes, vehicles and other property.
"The power outages caused a lot of losses for food spoilage," he said.
Rhodes said a number of business customers were negatively impacted because their policies covered on-site power outages, but did not provide coverage for outages originating off-site.
Both men said the biggest piece of advice they have coming out of last year's storm is for everyone, from homeowners to car owners to businesses: Know your policy and review it annually, making changes to suit current needs.
"We constantly try to get our customers in to grow their coverages," Jones said, who advises customers to review and update their policies.
For the most part, "people don't know what coverage they have until something bad happens and then they are mad because they didn't have the right coverage," Rhodes said.