Show Me The Money

money

As a follow up to my previous blog, I would like to comment on the financial issues of both The federal Flood program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in general. Several years ago the Federal Flood Administration, which is a division of FEMA was financially sound and the premiums charged were roughly equal to the claims paid. Katrina and the Mississippi floods changed all of that and the program was quickly put in the red. Subsequent storms including the latest Hurricane Sandy have exasperated the situation and the Flood program is considerably in debt. FEMA is actually worse off because it has no income source and since the United States has to borrow 40% of its budget, FEMA is part of that borrowing. In other words the Chinese and other creditors are financing the FEMA relief effort. When our President says, “tell us what you need” to the afflicted regions, he must know that there is no reserve or rainy day fund to help. It is not even taxpayer money since all of the taxes have been used for other things and we still have to borrow over one trillion dollars a year to pay remaining expenses-irrespective of FEMA. FEMA is a necessary and important Agency but it is unfunded-just like the Social Security Fund, which should have trillions in cash but really has nothing but “IOUs” in its coffers. FEMA’s noble mission may be disaster aid and assistance but its stewardship is just plain disaster.

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.

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The Cruel Sea

Hurricane Sandy

The recent hurricane “Sandy” caused unprecedented damage here on the Ct. coast as well as in New York and New Jersey. Actually the storm was not declared a hurricane by the Ct. Insurance commissioner which is fortunate since many homeowner policies have a special “hurricane deductible” which is between 2 and 5 percent of the dwelling amount.

  Many of the claims, however, are solely flood losses and the only coverage available is FEMAs flood contract.The homeowner contract excludes flood which is defined as surface water which permeates two or more acreas of normally dry land or two or more properties which are contiguous.The homeowner policy  provides coverage for some water issues but not the inundation of surface water. There are some private companies that offer  flood but they usually require that the government contract respond first-up to the maximum limit provided which is 250000 for a residence.

    Many victims of the storm never anticipated that the  surge would affect their dwellings and thus did not have flood coverage. If they had a mortgage , the bank would have required flood coverage, but it is not mandatory if a home is unencumbered financially.

   Since there are so many claims with too few adjusters to go around, the insured must take an active role in facilitating the claim. The following are suggestions:

1. Take photos and document damaged property.

2. Do what is necessary to protect undamaged property.

3. Separate damaged property from undamaged items.

4. Reconstruction should be delayed until an adjuster visits the site and provides an preliminary estimate.However, emergency construction to prevent further damge should be done immediately.

  The flood policy doesn’t have a lot of “bells and whistles” but it is the only game in town and wasn’t even available until the mid twentieth century.          

The author of this blog, Guy Hatfield CPCU CIC, can be reached at 203.256.5660.

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