Americans for Insurance Reform Creates ’Katrina Insurance Hotline’
NEW YORK, Sept. 12 -- Americans for Insurance Reform (“AIR”), a coalition of more than 100 public interest groups from around the country, announced today the creation of a toll-free KATRINA INSURANCE HOTLINE: 888-450-5545. The hotline, which will be staffed Monday through Friday, 10 am to 6 pm EST, will be a clearinghouse for complaints by Hurricane Katrina victims who are being unfairly treated or denied claims by insurance companies on their hurricane-related insurance policies.
AIR is encouraging victims of Hurricane Katrina who feel they have being unfairly treated or denied a claim by their insurance company to call the hotline and relate their story.
AIR says that while it will not be able to directly solve victims’ insurance problems, it will monitor complaints, refer them to government officials where appropriate, such as insurance departments and Attorneys General, keep records and generally act as a clearinghouse for information.
According to several news reports, insurance companies are waffling about whether they will pay policyholders for certain types of damage. For example, many policyholders have policies covering wind and rain damage, but not flooding. However, even though a property may have been washed away by the storm surge, it was likely first hit by heavy winds so that by the time the water wiped out the property, some percentage of the property was already destroyed by the wind and rain. These claims must be paid.
In addition, AIR coalition member, Consumer Federation of America, will be sending a letter calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to tell the insurance industry that the government will not tolerate either slow payment of claims involving both wind and flooding or over-allocation of the damage to the federal government. Moreover, CFA will be asking relevant congressional committees to exercise oversight and have the General Accountability Office carefully audit all allocations made by insurers where both wind and flood damage are involved. The letter will demand that when there is a loss to be adjusted where both wind and flood damage is present, insurers must pay the claim promptly irrespective of a yet-to-be-determined wind/flood allocation.
J. Robert Hunter, AIR co-founder, director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America and former Federal Insurance Administrator, stated, “We are very concerned that consumers will be shortchanged in claims settlements with those with no flood insurance most at risk. That’s why a telephone monitoring service is so important. If we see abuse, we can warn government agencies and the media. For those with wind and flood insurance, we are seeking procedures to be put in place to assure fast payment of claims while protecting taxpayers from paying more than their fair share in any claim.”
“The fact that the insurance industry should even be questioning their obligation to pay these claims is the height of corporate irresponsibility,” said Joanne Doroshow, AIR co-founder and executive director for the Center for Justice & Democracy. “What is so morally outrageous about this is the fact that the property-casualty insurance industry made more money last year than ever in its history. While the rest of the country is emptying its pockets to help these victims, the insurance industry is discussing how to pocket more money as victims face financial ruin. This is unacceptable.”
AIR is a project of the national consumer organization, Center for Justice & Democracy. For more information about AIR, see http://insurance-reform.org .
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