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The Second Disaster

As I reported back on December 3, insurance carriers representing FEMA are now being held accountable for fraudulent activities performed to deny covered flood claims following Superstorm Sandy.

You may have seen the recent piece on 60 Minutes entitled “The Storm After The Storm”. If not, click the link. Trust me, it’s worth taking 14 minutes to watch this.

Following the storm, insurance carriers representing FEMA hired professional engineers to inspect homes and validate damages. Or did they? It turns out that thousands of homeowners in New Jersey and New York have been victimized by a wide-scale fraud surrounding the alteration of engineering reports. The original engineering reports cited “structural damages” and explained that these damages were caused by the storm.

But those reports were systematically changed by the insurance companies to state “no structural damage” and blaming damages on “long term” problems that pre-dated Sandy. As a result, thousands of victims saw their claims fraudulently denied, or severely limited.

In some cases, the engineers hired by the insurance companies were given forms to fill out that concluded there were no structural damages before they even had an opportunity to draw their own conclusions.

One engineer in particular has come forward. Andrew Braum, working for a firm called HiRise Engineering, reports he inspected 180 homes for HiRise. He also claims that 175 of his engineering reports were altered. And the only ones that weren’t altered were the ones where Mr. Braum recommended that no repairs were required.

If you think this is an isolated example of bad behavior by insurance companies, think again. Following a criminal probe for fraudulent activity by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, State Farm Insurance Company agreed to pay 35,000 Hurricane Katrina victims at least $80 million to settle a class action law suit.

These are tactics policyholders are faced with when filing a legitimate claim. The first disaster can’t be avoided, but the second disaster can be, with professional representation. Here at Richard Green and Son we provide the highest quality claims service available.

Your insurance company protects you from disaster, and we protect you from your insurance company.