State Farm Cuts Nuke Damage From Coverage

February 26, 2003, 
By Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- State Farm, the nation's largest auto and residential insurer, is changing its car insurance policies to clearly exclude claims stemming from nuclear explosions or radioactive fallout.

The Bloomington-based insurer is mailing notices to 40 million auto policyholders that says nuclear blasts or radioactive damage are not normal road hazards, whether the incidents are accidental or intentional.

State Farm spokesman Joe Johnson said the company reviewed policies in the wake of heightened awareness over terrorism and realized there was no specific language regarding nuclear-related claims.

"Basically, a nuclear event is the type of situation that could threaten an insurance company's solvency," Johnson said.

Most insurers' auto and homeowners policies contain a similar exclusion, said Loretta Worters, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute. State Farm already excludes nuclear-related claims in its homeowners policies.

The nuclear exclusion will be added to automobile policies up for renewal beginning Dec. 1, and should be included in all State Farm auto policies by June 1, 2004, Johnson said.

Notices are being mailed to auto policyholders in states that have approved the exclusion, State Farm spokesman Dick Luedke said. The company is still awaiting approval from insurance regulators in eight to 10 states, he said.

State Farm paid out $20.3 million in auto, fire and life insurance claims stemming from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Johnson said. The company's biggest previous payout was $3.7 billion for Hurricane Andrew.

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press

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