Category Archives: Property Damage Insurance

Insurance Claim Recovery

According to the Associated Press/WABI the Maine Bureau of Insurance recovered the following for Maine’s insured-

Insurance Bureau Recovers $970,000 For Consumers, Businesses

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Dealing with auto, life and other kinds of insurance can be a headache, and one Maine agency is dedicating to helping Mainers sort it out.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance said Mainers made 6,007 calls last year and filed 790 complaints on issues related to insurance. All told, Maine residents and businesses recovered nearly $970,000 last year with the agency’s help.

Mainers lodged 254 written complaints and made about 2,800 inquiries to the bureau’s property and casualty division, which includes auto and homeowners insurance.

Another 636 written complaints and 3,213 inquiries were directed to the consumer health care division, which includes health, life and disability insurance.

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More information: http://www.maine.gov/insurance

The Bureau of Insurance is diligent in assisting policy holders-

State Insurance Regulators Assist Consumers in Recovering Money

Maine insurance regulators say they helped consumers in the state to recover more than $3 million owed to them during the past year. Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa says nearly $2.2 million was recovered by the Bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division, and almost $950,000 was recovered by the Property and Casualty Division. Cioppa says most insurers operating in Maine pay claims properly and quickly. But when individuals or business owners contact the state because of a dispute with an insurance company or agent, the state can often provide assistance. Cioppa said the Insurance Bureau fielded almost 9,000 inquiries and more than 900 complaints during 2012.

Investigating Insurance Company Profits

Maine insurance adjusters, are generally honest and credible. NPR is broadcasting a shocking and informative investigation of gross malfeasance under the flood insurance program, which the U.S. taxpayer subsidizes if there are not enough funds to cover large scale catastrophic losses.

Sept. 20: Business of Disaster

Who profits when disaster strikes? FRONTLINE and NPR investigated the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy — revealing that private insurance companies working for the government have made hundreds of millions of dollars at the same time that thousands of homeowners are claiming they have been underpaid. “We found that disasters like Superstorm Sandy aren’t a disaster for everyone,” says NPR reporter Laura Sullivan, who along with FRONTLINE producer Rick Young and his investigative team spent a year digging into how Sandy recovery dollars were spent.

From NPR News Investigations

“In 2009, a Government Accountability Office audit told FEMA to figure out how much profit the flood insurance companies are making off the flood program and take that into account when it paid them.

But Wright, who took over the flood program for FEMA last year, says he doesn’t know how much money the insurance companies make from the program.

“I’ve never looked at the book of business to understand their profits,” he says. “So you’d need to go specifically to the companies to understand those numbers.”

The nation’s largest insurance firms declined to disclose their profit margins on the flood program.

However, every year the insurance companies report what it actually costs them to do their flood work to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an industry association of government regulators. And every year, FEMA reports what it pays insurers who participate in the flood program. With both numbers, you can do some math. Government auditors used a similar method in 2009.

Based on the latest figures, that analysis shows the insurance companies together made anywhere from $240 million to $406 million a year just on their flood work since 2011 — without having to pay any claims.”

Insurance Claims

Winter weather can cause a lot of property damage, especially from frozen pipes resulting in water damage with associated loss. Insurance policies can be very confusing to property owners in the midst of the chaos of property damage. Typically, insurance agents are very good at explaining policy coverage and initiating claims. Another informative resource for property owners is United Policyholders an organization dedicated to advocating for policyholders of all sizes, from individuals to corporations.

Water Damage Mold Growth Connection

The National Institutes of Health in the US National Library of Medicine published an article, Associations between Fungal Species and Water-damaged Building Materials, which references information regarding mold growth in water damaged buildings as well as different methods of sampling mold growth.

“Most water damage indoors is due to natural disaster (e.g., flooding) or human error (e.g., disrepair). Water can seep into a building as a result of melting snow, heavy rain, or sewer system overflow. Water vapor can be produced by human activities like cooking, laundering, or showering and then condense on cold surfaces like outer walls, windows, or furniture. Damp or water-damaged building materials are at high risk of fungal growth (mold growth), possibly resulting in health problems for the occupants and the deterioration of the buildings. The water activity (aw) (aw × 100 = % relative humidity at equilibrium) of a building material is the determining factor for fungal growth and varies with the temperature and the type of material (27). The longer a material’s aw is over 0.75, the greater the risk of fungal growth (49), though different fungi have different aw preferences (11). Some filamentous fungi can grow on a material when the aw is as low as 0.78 (26), while others can survive 3 weeks at an aw of 0.45 (30). The severity of indoor dampness varies with the climate, but WHO (52) estimates that in Australia, Europe, India, Japan, and North America, dampness is a problem in 10 to 50% of the buildings, and Sivasubramani et al. (41) estimate that fungal growth is a problem in 15 to 40% of North American and Northern European homes.”
© 2011, American Society for Microbiology

FEMA Flood Map Changes

Recent changes have been made to flood zones, potentially increasing property insurance requirements on mortgages. The Bangor Daily News published a piece on the changes and the impact on various geographical locations in Maine. Property owners are not always aware of the calculation used to determine the insurance rate and how the rate is affected by the balance remaining on mortgage loans. Businesses and secondary homeowners will see increases while primary homeowners have been impacted to a lesser degree. Some municipalities are contesting the methodology behind the changes.

Insurance Statistics

The Maine Bureau of Insurance publishes a lot of information. Homeowner Insurance Complaint Comparisons will be helpful when property insurance is due to renew. United Policyholders offers good advice on purchasing insurance and making the most of potential discounts as well as information specific to each state.

Maine Bureau of Insurance

Winter brings pipe breaks and water damage, the Maine Bureau of Insurance offers this advice to homeowners in the claim resolution process-

“If you and the insurer still disagree about the value of the claim, review the appraisal provision in your policy. It is a simplified procedure to resolve disagreements about the value of a property damage claim.

If you have trouble with or questions about your claim, you also may contact the Bureau of Insurance for help. The Bureau of Insurance has consumer services personnel who can help you work with your insurer to resolve disagreements.”