Missouri regulators have cautioned that some insurers will need to ex- tend rebuild deadlines in order to avoid bad-faith accusations and possible legal action. The Missouri Department of Insurance issued a bulletin urging insurers to instate moratoriums under which policyholders would have additional time to rebuild
homes ravaged by the multiple-vortex
twister that leveled Joplin, Mo. on May
In the bulletin, John M. Huff, director
of the Missouri Department of Insurance,
explained the magnitude of devastation in
the Joplin area created serious logistical
complications, including delayed access to
property, as well as a shortage of contractors and building materials. As a result,
it has been virtually impossible for some
owners of both residential and commercial properties to rebuild under the timelines stipulated by their insurance policies.
This is not the first time that state regu-
G P&C INSURERS HAVE ALREADY PAID MORE
THAN $1.1 BILLION IN HOMEOWNERS’, AUTO, AND
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY CLAIMS RESULTING FROM
THE MAY TWISTER.
lators have asked property and casualty
(P&C) insurers to relax customary time
limitations. Six months after the storm,
which killed 159 people and generated
$4.9 billion in insured losses, the depart-
ment issued an industry bulletin stating
that property owners should not be ex-
pected to rebuild “within the time limits
required by some homeowners’ and com-
mercial insurance policies.”
Although various insurance compa-
nies opted to extend deadlines to accom-
modate affected policyholders, others
have not yet responded. To date, P&C
insurers have doled out more than $1.1
billion in homeowners’, auto, and com-
mercial property claims stemming from
the Joplin tornado.
Ga. Law to Stop Every ‘Shingle’ Fraudster
State agents are working hard to enforce a new law to keep unscrupulous roofers from climbing the ladder of fraud
success. Under the law, roofers are no
longer allowed to pay a storm victim’s insurance deductibles or file claims on their
Georgia Insurance Commissioner
Ralph Hudgens, who says he wants to
send a message, recently sent out two
undercover state agents to target Ronnie
Baker and several other roofers.
State officials say Baker advertised a
promise that sent up immediate red flags,
“Storm victims pay zero deductible.”
To set up the sting, the state rented a house
and first brought in Frank Domonousky, a
certified inspector. He reported that the
roof was “in good condition.” There were
no hail-or storm-related damages.
The Fraud Squad with the insurance
commissioner’s office and a local news
channel set up hidden cameras. Baker
was invited to look at the roof. The cam-
eras, however, show him doing more
measuring than inspecting. When fin-
ished, Baker claimed the house needed a
new roof and offered a bargain.
caught by surprise.
Barry was seen using a penny to
scratch off the granules on the shingles
to manufacture hail damage. He claimed,
however, that he was only trying to make
previous damage more visible.
According to the inspector, Domonousky,
it’s more like vandalism. “He actually rubbed
right through the shingle to the fiber backing
on the bottom half, and basically damaged
this shingle for life,” he explained.
Hudgens said the felony fraud charges
against all three roofers caught allegedly
roughing up the roof will stand.
“When it’s not prosecuted the message
doesn’t get out and it says it’s perfectly OK
to defraud an insurance company. Well
it’s not,” Hudgens added.
Three other roofers, whose inspection
did not warrant arrest, will get warnings for the promises to pay the deductible. In addition to the three arrested
for felony insurance fraud, investigators
are gathering evidence against a fourth
roofer. —By Melissa Stewart