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Hurricane Irene “brought to light” multiple issues in NC that need to be addressed

hurricane irene blowing ashore


Below, please find a summary of FEMA and NFIP issues that need to be addressed by next hurricane season…

1.       There was a general consensus among the NC Insurance Commission and FEMA that some of the insurance adjusters were not submitting adequate estimates to cover the amount damage that homeowners incurred. The best way for a homeowner to get a re-inspection of their property is to call FEMA (855-336-2002) and ask “for a FEMA Adjuster” to re-inspect your property.

2.       There have been reports that depreciation cannot be help from an insurance payout and must be paid when the actual value payment is made. The following is the clarification from FEMA:

o    The NFIP guideline (May 2004) has been misquoted in the media.  It says that insurance companies are “not required” to hold back depreciation.  Of course, this means they can if they want to.  The FEMA representative we talked to said as long as it is in accordance with “normal insurance company procedures” it’s allowed to be held back.

o    The insured should to be able to collect the depreciation with a signed restoration contract having a start and an end date.

3.       There has been considerable confusion concerning the coverage of garages. The following are the comments we received concerning the question “Is there coverage in a garage?”:

o    Yes there is coverage.

o    If the building is an elevated post-firm building, the coverage is above the base flood elevation of the first elevated floor.

§  For homes on a crawlspace, anything above the first floor height is covered.

§  For an elevated home (up on piers or stilts), there are no attached garages that would qualify

o    If the building is a pre-post firm building (i.e. built in the 1950’s and1960’s), the coverage begins at the ground.

o    For detached garages, up to 25% of the Coverage A with the following considerations:

§  Coverage does not apply to dwellings. That is if there is space to sleep in the building.

§  Bathrooms can complicate things.

§  Slop or laundry sinks are ok

4.       Are building permits covered by insurance?

o    Building permits should be covered at their exact cost.

5.       There has been considerable disagreement on the category of water coming from the Neuse River. For insurance purposes, water can fall into 3 categories from Category 1 ,clean tap water, to Category 3 , water containing serious contaminates such as sewage and other bio-hazards. When asked “What Category is the water?”, the following was the response of the FEMA representative:

o    “I drove over the river and saw it.  It’s definitely Cat 3.”  Of course, he then added the fact that it is salt or brackish, there are sewage issues and that fuel in the water also help it qualify as Cat 3.

6.       There has been considerable disagreement at what rate should be charged for removing insulation from flood-damaged areas. Insurance estimating tools charge rates ranging from the cheapest which is dry insulation in a building cavity to the more expensive wet, contaminated insulation in a confined area like a crawlspace.

o    On this point, the FEMA representative indicated that the rate billed should be the more expensive contaminated wet insulation in a confined area..

7.       There has been some confusion concerning whether homeowners should get copies of insurance company requested engineer’s reports. The following was the FEMA representative’s response:

o    If it is the insurance company’s normal procedure to share the report, then the answer is “Yes”.

o    The report should be requested by the homeowner and documented if the report was not provided.

8.       The NC Dept of Insurance is recommending that anyone not happy with their insurance estimate to call FEMA and follow up that way.  If this does not work, then the homeowner should file a complaint with Department of Insurance, and they will look into it.

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