Louisiana Voice is seeking your help so that we may, in some small way, try to help you.
Like my veterinarian Michael Whitlock and others of whom I am aware, there are many other victims of the August floods who have been victimized again by FEMA and insurance companies.
Whitlock’s home, his vet clinic, two vehicles and most of his equipment were lost in the flood. Some of the equipment he managed to save was subsequently stolen by looters. Despite all this, he was stiffed by his flood insurance company which refused to pay the full policy limits despite six feet of water in his home, leaving him to fend for himself. FEMA was worse than useless; he got nothing.
Yet, because his home and clinic each were more than 50 percent losses each (yet, less than total losses by his flood insurance carrier), he has been ordered by the City of Denham Springs to elevate each structure. “The cost of elevating the clinic would cost more than the entire structure is worth,” he said.
Another Denham Springs business had $500,000 flood insurance coverage but received only about half that in settlement despite not being able to re-open for four months.
LouisianaVoice had a post a couple of years back about the 3-D strategy of insurance companies: “Delay, Deny, Defend.” The strategy works this way:
Delay paying claims as long as possible;
Deny in the hope the claimant will give up out of sheer frustration and go away;
Defend vigorously if the claimant sues. Even if the insurance company loses the individual lawsuit, it’s worth it when you consider the number of claimants who cannot afford the money and time necessary to pursue what is rightfully theirs.
If, for instance, after a catastrophe like Katrina or the August flood, a thousand homeowners file claims and each is denied by the carrier and only one of that 1,000 sues and wins and 999 simply throw up their hands and walk away, who do you think is the winner in the long term?
In the case of Katrina, for instance, the two companies who wrote the book on the 3-D tactic, who were the absolute worst companies with whom to deal, were Allstate and State Farm.
And as for FEMA, who could ever forget the debacle of Katrina? Does anyone not remember President George W. Bush telling FEMA Director Michael Brown “YOU’RE DOING A HECKUVA JOB”?
And just so you know, the FEMA response to the flood hasn’t been much better. With an whole new round of FEMA trailers (950 square feet) costing anywhere from $126,000 to $170,000, depending on where the trailer is set up, you have to wonder why FEMA doesn’t just build small but reasonably price permanent housing for victims?
This is not to suggest that everyone is entitled to free stuff, but it makes no more sense to spend that kind of money on flimsy trailers.
With this in mind, LouisianaVoice would like to have your experiences with both FEMA and insurance companies for a future story.
And while you have more important matters that demand your attention (like getting back into your home or business), if you have encountered difficulties getting either FEMA or your insurance company to respond or if you’ve been ordered to elevate your home or business at unaffordable costs to you, we’d love to hear from you.
Send us a narrative of your experience to:
Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation or spelling. We do all needed editing.