Assistance available for flood victims

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Missouri Department of Insurance has a new resource for information about flood-related insurance claims available on its website, http://difp.mo.gov/.

The online resources include details about how flood damage is covered, depending on whether it affects homes, cars or crops.

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies don't cover flood damage. To be covered, people need a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. These policies have a 30-day waiting period before they're effective. Consumers with coverage should contact the agent who sold them their flood insurance policy or the National Flood Insurance Program at floodsmart.gov or 888-379-9531.

While liability auto insurance policies won't cover flood damage, comprehensive coverage may. Consumers with damage should contact their auto insurance agent to file a claim.

Flood damage to crops is covered by some types of crop insurance. These policies are sold by private insurance companies but regulated by the federal Risk Management Agency. Most policies require claims to be filed within 72 hours of discovering damage. Farmers with crop damage should contact their crop insurance agent as soon as possible. They can also contact the Risk Management Agency at rma.usda.gov or call 202-690-2803.

According to the Missouri Department of Labor workers, owners, farmers, employers and employees in Southeast Missouri affected by flooding and unable to work should file for regular unemployment benefits.

Individuals who have become unemployed as a result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular state unemployment insurance benefits may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Once the disaster declaration has been confirmed by the president, the public will be notified and only then can applications for DUA can be filed.

For more information on unemployment and updates for jobless disaster victims, visit www.labor.mo.gov/DES/notices.asp.

n Saint Francis expands Family Birthplace: Saint Francis Medical Center completed an expansion of its Family Birthplace this week, increasing its number of private patient rooms to 16. The expansion also includes a two-bay triage area and another swing room that can serve as a labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum suite or triage room. The Family Birthplace at Saint Francis has seen a rapid increase in volume during the past few years, and now the growing number of expectant mothers and their medical providers will have more space with which to welcome their new arrivals, according to a hospital news release. Hospital officials saw an expansion was necessary as the Family Birthplace's delivery numbers continued to grow exponentially. The department's 874 births in 2010 represented a 16 percent increase over the previous record of 752 set in 2009, and an 82 percent increase over the 481 births recorded in 2005. The Family Birthplace opened in 2001, after 35 years without obstetric services at Saint Francis. The expanded facility offers mom-approved amenities, including private bathrooms, private whirlpools or showers, TV and DVD players, specially designed beds, daily quiet time to promote mother-baby bonding and gift baskets for moms.

* Fitness center opens: Training Edge Fitness has opened at 2031 Cape Lacroix Road in Cape Girardeau. The new facility offers personal training, strength training and cardio equipment as well as massage therapy. There are three personal trainers on staff, including owner Scott Hubbard. Training Edge Fitness is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

* Settlement with Hollywood Video, Movie Gallery: Missouri, along with a number of other states and the District of Columbia, has reached a settlement with the liquidating trustee, Bankruptcy First Term Lenders Liquidating Trust, handling the bankruptcy of Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery. Both companies had previous operations in Cape Girardeau County. Attorney General Chris Koster said following the bankruptcy, former customers of the stores from across the country complained that a third-party collection agent reported negative credit information to credit bureaus without giving the consumers notice or an opportunity to challenge the information. He said consumers had no idea they had credit damage until they were denied credit or were only approved for limited credit, and many denied owing any money at all. Koster said his office helped negotiate a nationwide settlement with the liquidating trustee that requires the negative information be removed from consumers' credit reports.

Southeast Missourian business reporter Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or mmiller@semissourian.com.

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