Hancock County Update 34
GCN Exclusive Report
Is Anybody Paying Except Us?
Renters out in the cold, homeowners preferring lawsuits, Congressmen appropriating funds…this is getting ugly.
By Mark Proulx - Special to GCN
Ok…that’s it. I’m mad.
Let me tell you the story (stories, really) of different situations along the Gulf Coast and what we know for a fact hasn’t been done about it.
One sister of mine who had rented a house just on the other side of the train tracks in Waveland lost everything. Her situation: her husband was working for the State at Buccaneer and she was still working for a hospital in Slidell. Because she was not in a “flood zone” she was not required to purchase flood insurance. (In fact, I’ve heard this countless times…who knew renters HAD to pay for flood insurance?)
Result: No renter’s insurance but she is still working means FEMA won’t pay a dime.
My other sister lived in Buccaneer State Park at a house provided by the park. Thank God they evacuated, but when they came back they found nothing left of the house except pieces. In fact the two houses that had been used by park employees were blown to pieces (reminiscent of the Big Bad Wolf and the house made of sticks.) Pieces of the Water Slide well above the water line were blown off and away. My sister’s wedding dress was found at the top of a pine tree hundreds of yards away torn to shreds. Every leaf on every tree from the bottom to the top was blown off (as was most of the coast) whether below or above the water line and insurance companies are claiming “the flood waters did it.”
Result: Renter’s insurance won’t pay anything because renters were supposed to get flood insurance, too, in order to pay for anything.
My parents’ house thankfully survived, but the insurance adjuster from State Farm made some questionable (if not outright wrong) assumptions about the damage that occurred on and around the house. Trees had been blown down and had destroyed a fence and shed in the back yard. No flooding occurred along the bottom of the house (in the same yard, I might add) yet the adjuster claims that flooding brought down the fence and the tree. There were no leaves on the tree, yet the adjuster’s opinion (which is normally the case, seeing how he is expected to help the insurance company NOT pay out) was that rising flood waters took down the tree, somehow jumped up off the ground shredding every leaf off, grappled with the tops of the tree, causing it to fall on the fence, and that is his reasoning to not allow a claim. After much debate, the man finally decided to allow JUST the section that was hit by the tree – but nothing else.
Result: State Farm has decided to begrudgingly pay for the roof damage (since the adjuster would have to really stretch his imagination to get the flood waters to rip off part of the roof), one small section of the fence (and only because my father had pictures of the original fence), and some of the damage inside the house due to the water dripping down the wall (which we know the adjuster was chomping at the bit to attempt to explain how rising water got there, too.)
A man from Shoreline Park called me up to say that his house is actually still standing, but the roof was completely blown off and he sustained extensive damage to the inside. He also had flood insurance (since it was essentially mandatory). He has complete coverage, but has lost his job as a result of the devastation to the area. His adjuster (from a third-party MS company since his insurance company has no adjusters) stated that if he could show the adjuster the roof, he would submit a claim for wind damage.
Result: Since this man was fully covered by both homeowner’s AND flood insurance, he was denied any monies from FEMA, received no assistance check from his insurance company, had to move out of state to stay with friends, and is in the process of trying to find his roof so he can submit to his homeowner’s insurance. He has only received a small check from the NFIP (national flood insurance program) that cannot come close to replacing his contents of rebuild the house again. Meanwhile, he is broke, out of work and looking for a roof to satisfy a claims adjuster’s morbid sense of duty.
A lady who was renting in Waveland wrote recently to vent about her situation since she had to move out of the area, as well, and had renter’s insurance through Met Life. This insurance company flat-out denied her claim for contents; this after she had gone over her policy and was assured by the insurance agent (local in Pass Christian) that she would, in fact, be covered since she was living in a “no flood zone.” In attempting to resolve the matter, she has attempted to seek legal representation but has been denied because the firms are not taking on renters as clients.
Result: One “assistance” check and the assurances that she has no legal means (although she has legal grounds) to fight for her right to a fair settlement by contract she signed in good faith, hoping that it meant she would get paid for her losses.
One brother of mine who lived in the second floor of apartments over by Waveland Ave. and Highway 90 had his roof torn off and his place flooded (basically the same area as the lady described above.) Since I don’t feel it necessary to get into his personal situation, I’ll say that his financial situation isn’t the best around. No renter’s insurance, no flood insurance, four kids and the loss of this employment…meaning his is the worst situation you can have.
Result: Family helped him relocate to another area, he found a job almost immediately when people in the new town found out about him, he lucked into a great apartment with enough room for the kids, received a FEMA check and Red Cross money. A few months later since Bay High opened, he has since moved back down to the Bay to put the kids back in the school that they love and is getting back on his feet again.
I love my family dearly, but this situation sickens me…
We have a system that completely disregards the fact that good people have paid GOOD money to insure their losses. There are loopholes, stalling tactics, opinions that favor the insurers, “exclusions,” case-by-case payments, lack of common sense and painful, expensive lawsuits by homeowners only.
Renters who had insurance are reminded that they relied on bad or wrong or false information from their insurance “professionals.” Homeowners dropped flood insurance due to bad or wrong or false information from their insurance “professionals.” People never purchased flood insurance because they were told by insurance “professionals” they did not need it, if they were told at all.
Bottom line…insurance “professionals” are nothing more than the ones dangling the carrot in front of our faces, telling us what we want to hear or scaring us into buying into a plan that only serves the insurance “cash cows.” The National Flood Insurance Program is paying many more times than what the insurance companies are claiming in “insurable losses,” but these losses are at their discretion (actually the losses they absolutely can’t get out of paying.)
If the EVENT known as Hurricane Katrina doesn’t wake people up to the fact that insurance companies are simply “legal scams” designed to take your money and not pay you in your times of need;
If we don’t admit that money paid to insurance companies on top of money that we pay in federal taxes every year is a silly idea;
And if we honestly think that a group of companies sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars of OUR MONEY and not paying us back is acceptable…
Then I have some beachfront property in Mississippi I’d like to sell you….quick.
CITY OF BAY ST LOUIS
HANCOCK COUNTY DISASTER RELIEF FUND
HMC FOUNDATION HURRICANE RELIEF FUND
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