Tricounty News

Watkins Community Fire Dept. 100th anniv.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Watkins Community Fire Department, the Grand Marshals of
Kraut ’N Wurst 2013 were all members, past and present, of the department. Here they are in the line-up for w-Watkins Firementhe parade Saturday morning, Aug. 3. Congratulations to all, and thank you all for your many years of service!


Hail and storm damage claims: DOC offers assistance and info

SAINT PAUL, MN – Many areas of Minnesota were hit last night with hail leaving damaged homes and vehicles. The Department of Commerce reminds consumers to review their auto and homeowners policy, contact their insurance agent and document property damage.

“Cracked windshields and dinged roof shingles can cause major headaches,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “I urge Minnesotans to work with their insurance agent and visit the Department of Commerce’s Disaster Information Center. In the event that consumers are unable to resolve their claim with their insurance company call the Department of Commerce’s Consumer Response Team – we are here to help.”


Storm Damage to Vehicles

Hail can damage the exterior and glass. Coverage for these types of losses is provided by your policy under the "Comprehensive" portion of the auto policy. Some policies call this coverage "Other than Collision".


How to File and Settle a Claim

  1. Call your agent or the claims processing center listed on your "Minnesota Insurance Identification Card."
  2. Document the damage with photos.
  3. Obtain estimates from repair facilities. Your insurance company may want more than one estimate including one from their preferred facility or claims center

Learn more about how to file and settle your auto claim here.


Repairing Your Vehicle

  • If the repair estimates are less than the value of the auto, the insurer will likely proceed to pay for the repairs. Generally repair of the auto is made by using parts of the same year and manufacturer as the damaged auto (used parts). You cannot be required to accept "after-market parts".
  • You may choose your own repair facility. However, if that facility is not the low estimate, you may be responsible for paying the difference.
  • If the windshield and windows are damaged, original equipment glass is not required to affect replacement.
  • Hail damage can be repaired using the dent-less paint repair procedure. If the procedure does not repair the damage, replacement of the damaged parts would be required.
  • Can I ask for cash in lieu of repair? Yes, if you don't have a lien holder. However, the insurance company may subtract the profit/overhead that is in the bid of the repair facility. (You can't profit from a claim).


Determining the Market Value of a Totaled Vehicle

If the estimate of repair is close to the market value of your auto, the insurance company will begin to consider declaring it a total loss.

Minnesota law requires insurance companies to pay "the cost of a comparable auto, adjusted for mileage, condition and options in the local market place of the insured" (with all applicable taxes and license fees). Usually this is determined by checking internet sources such as, and the local newspaper. An insurance company can obtain a market survey of recent sales of comparable autos from a vendor.

If you disagree with your insurance company over the market value of your totaled vehicle, check with them about whether you can request the "appraisal process." Both you and the insurance company hire appraisers. If the two appraisers can't agree, they jointly hire an umpire to make the decision. You pay for your own appraiser and one-half of the umpire fee.


The Claims Process for Hail Damage – Homeowner’s Insurance - Are you Covered?

If you have suffered a loss, here are questions you should ask and things you should know before you file a claim.

Am I Covered?

Homeowners policies do not always have the same coverages. It is very important to read your policy to determine what is covered, and the level of coverage that exists. If you cannot locate your policy, contact your insurance agent or company immediately. Your agent or company will usually be able to address your questions quickly and accurately. Many companies have Disaster Claim Teams that have been sent to the area.

The standard homeowners insurance coverage will cover most of your loss that would occur in windstorm or hail.  However, most policies have deductibles that will apply. Coverage will usually cover the replacement cost for the damaged portion of your home, including any upgrades that are required by local codes when damage is repaired. Most contracts cover the expense of debris removal from you home. This coverage is usually provided in addition to the policy limit restriction that applies to the repair of the damage to your home or garage.

Even if fully insured for all perils, some losses will not be covered:

  • Cost of tree and debris removal when structures unharmed
  • Undamaged property, siding or shingles
  • Damage to property not involving structures


What Can I Expect?

The claims settlement statutes dictate that companies must handle claims in a responsive manner. However, some of the time frames that are established in the law allow a company up to 60 days to respond to some issues. Most companies will be much more responsive than that. You can expect responses to most of your concerns or problems within a day or two. Though it is not required, some companies have set up programs that allow their on-site adjusters to issue checks in advance to cover some of the additional living expenses and replacement of some essential person property. Once you have made contact with your company adjuster, ask him/her about the availability of such programs.



We Can Help

If you have a problem with your insurance company, call our Consumer Response Team (CRT). You can reach a CRT representative between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

Phone: (651) 539-1600 or (800) 657-3602 (Greater Minnesota)
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Address: Minnesota Department of Commerce, Consumer Protection and Education Division
85 7th Place East, St. Paul, MN 55101

If you are unable to resolve a problem or complaint with your insurance company, the CRT may be able to help. The Minnesota Department of Commerce investigates written complaints against licensees. Investigations seek to determine if there has been a violation of current Minnesota statutes or rules. If a violation has occurred, administrative sanctions (license revocation, fines, etc.) may be taken. The Department attempts to secure the payment of claims or obtain refunds for consumers who have been victimized by licensee misconduct. When filing a complaint:

  • Write, in your own words, the details of the dispute
  • Include as many details as possible such as dates, what was said, policy and claim numbers, etc.
  • Provide copies of relevant documents
  • Include your phone number and return address

Local crime blotters Aug. 1, 2013

Boat accident at Lake Koronis July 23

Tuesday, July 23, at 10:16 a.m. the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, Paynesville Police Department and Paynesville Ambulance Service were dispatched to a watercraft crash with injuries on Lake Koronis in Paynesville Township. A 1966 Arkan Runabout, being operated by Donald Manion, age 66 of Coon Rapids, was pulling a water skier west on Lake Koronis. During operation, the Arkan collided with a kayak that had two juvenile males on board. One of the juveniles, a 5-year old boy from Edina, received non-life threatening injuries and was taken to the Paynesville Area Hospital by ambulance. This case is still under investigation by the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office.


National Night Out Aug. 6

National Night Out, Aug. 6, will be celebrated in Kimball at the Kimball Area Fire Hall, and in Watkins at the Watkins Fire Hall.


Kimball’s National Night Out is planned for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday,
Aug. 6, at the Kimball Area Fire Hall.

Celebrate this National Night Out and open house with the Kimball Area Fire and Rescue Department and the Kimball Police Department.


Watkins Fire Department turns 100 years old

September marks the 100th anniversary of the Watkins Fire Department. The department will be celebrating the event at the Kraut ’N Wurst Festival, Aug. 2 and 3. 74705 430846070366487 462409186 n

Friday night events include the Little Miss Watkins pageant at 7:30 p.m. and the cow drop at 9 p.m. at the city park, with refreshment stands opening at 7 p.m. The food and refreshment stands will open Saturday at 10 a.m. and the parade is slated to get underway at 10:30 a.m. There will be events all day at the park on Saturday, including a bean-bag tournament, volleyball tournament, water ball fight, and a street dance featuring Maiden Dixie, at 9 p.m. There will also be memorabilia for sale, commemorating the event, such as T-shirts, mugs and can coolers.

The festival is sponsored by the Watkins Fire Department, and the parade’s grand marshals are comprised of retired and active fire department members, in honor of its 100-year anniversary. Some of the retired members date back to the 1950s, including Jack Werner, who was a member from 1954 to 1976, Ewald Theis, from 1955 to 1974, and Joe Nistler Sr., from 1956 to 1982. There are 25 active members.