Cousin's house collapsed! Question!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Wendy, Jan 5, 2005.

  1. Wendy

    Wendy Well-Known Member

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    I just got a call from my brother. It seems my cousin's house has collapsed! :eek: We have been hammered with lots & lots of rain. He does not live on a flood plain, but is on a pretty level area. This was an older house. The front basement wall caved in. This caused the living room to collapse into the basement. The house is a total loss. He called his insurance, but they said it is not covered because he does not have flood insurance! :mad:
    My question is, how can this be considered flood damage if he does not live in a flood plain??
    This makes me so mad & it's not even me! Insurance is such a rip off. No matter what you have, they will try to get out of paying it. His mom & dad lived with him & are temporarily living with their daughter. Not sure where Stephen is going. I feel so bad for him. It would be bad enough to lose your house & lots of the things in it, but to be told you will be getting no financial help to re-build is just beyond cruel.
    OK, there's my rant! Any suggestions for the poor guy??
     
  2. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I am soooo sorry! I do not know if there is any recourse for him. My house in CO is also not considered in a flood plain so there is not flood insurance available. However, before the dam was built on the river, the spot where my house is now sitting was underwater. I totally agree about the insurance. Hope things work out for him! He might have to hire a lawyer.
     

  3. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    Cyngbaeld that's not true. Anyone can buy flood insurance. They may not be able to afford it. In fact by not living in a risk zone you qualify for a preferred risk policy that costs about $160/yr. Keep in mind that not all insurance agents are competent to talk about flood insurance. I talked to a bar owner once that was required to buy flood insurance to get a mortgage by his bank even though the bar was on one of the tallest hills in the county. If that place floods, we're all going to be looking for arks.

    The basement wall caving in is a groundwater issue. I knew someone else that happened to and from what I recall his homeowners insurance paid up. His house didn't collapse but he did end up with several tons of wet earth in a carpeted family room. I think the cousin should be able to collect.
     
  4. idahocurs

    idahocurs Well-Known Member

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    My house is on a prehistoric flood plane and it costs me almost $900 a year to have flood insurance alone and the county will not delist any areas as they earn revenue from all of this. My neighbors had there property changed to be out of the flood zone and my property is 3' higher than theirs but it cost them almost $9000 and my morgage will be paid off long before that would be practical.
     
  5. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

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    When we lived in Texas, our home was in an area that had flooded twice. It was NOT in any type of flood plain-------which was really crazy. I had heard that anyone could purchase flood insurance which is provided through the Federal Government, but after trying to get it, we were denied because we were not in a flood plain. We filled out all the paper work and even sent information about the years that the area had flooded, but we were unable to get flood insurance. Homeowner's Insurance in Texas did not provide for coverage from any damage caused by rising water. So, if there had been any flooding while we lived there, we would have been out of luck.

    I am so sorry to hear about your brother's house. I hope he did not have a mortgage on it as he is really in bad shape if he does. The loss of this house doesn't relieve him of the obligation.
     
  6. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Well if it is not true, the insurance company lied to me.
     
  7. vtfarma

    vtfarma Well-Known Member

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    The insurance industry is such a rip off. He should be able to collect but probably won't be able to. Too many big things have happened to make the insurance industry run scared ... hurricanes, 9-11, now the tsunami - we pay for it all. In our state if you have an underground oil tank you can't get insurance on your house because the exposure is just too great. Tell your cousin to have a rep from the insurance company come out and inspect it. If that does not work contact the insurance commissioner and have them come out.
     
  8. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    Ground water and flooding are two completely different beasts. He needs to contact his state insurance commission and also the attorney general's consumer division. Almost all insurance companies will automatically say no to any claim. Persistance and a lawyer, if needed, are your best tools to get what you have paid for.
     
  9. inc

    inc Well-Known Member

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    "My house is on a prehistoric flood plane"

    what the heck is a 'prehistoric' flood plain? have they invented yet another term?is this like a commercial 'node'?


    "and it costs me almost $900 a year to have flood insurance alone and the county will not delist any areas as they earn revenue from all of this"

    ooohhhhh yyyeeeeaaaahhhhh!!!!

    the planning board, after no less than 3 years of deliberation, rezoned my family's property (on a hill! a hill!)from industrial to 'rural conservation' what the **** is that- there never was a farm there only a crack house right next to it.
    reason? "proximity" to a "500 year" flood plain. proximity- doesnt that mean 'near but not in????"
    what really hurt was that the narrow strip in front of the crackhouse is low property- belongs to teh neighbor- is an illegal landfill(!)- and i belive that they were considering making this former commercial piece 'industrial' at one point.
    (whos got a special friend in local govt????)
    now - i will tell you that all sorts of building projects are planned for land that is actually IN a floodplain- the 100 year floodplain- well it feels like ive been here a hundred years becasue it sure did flooooood down round there...again............
    you know- it woul dbe so great if the local ordinances and policies were applied in a way that was actually unbiased...("PROXIMITY to a 500 year flood plain?????")
    my mother, stupidly, thinks that some younger member of the "planning board' team made a mistake- however i looked in the records and they actually split up a special contingent of three,from the regular planning board some time earlier to discuss her property- nand there was some unidentified guest from the public, 'to observe'. i KNOW who the three planning board members are, but i would give my eyeteeth to find out who that 'observer' was.
     
  10. inc

    inc Well-Known Member

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    amazing what you can find in the minutes of your local planning board, really........
     
  11. Valmai

    Valmai Well-Known Member

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    Wendy The first thing I think you need is the "official" definition of flood plain vs ground water. Yeah I know flood is flood and ground water is ground water. Also were there any maintenance issues the insurance co could point to? Do insurance co's over there just take the money and snigger or do you have to have an inspection of the property? If it becomes relevant here's a little story about a friend who lives in Queensland. The town floods regularly, maybe 1 year in 4, and I do mean deeeeep water. Flood insurance just about costs more than her house. During one flood she watched the water come up the hill, then went and got a ladder. If it had reached her place she was going to rip some of the roofing iron off and call it rain damage.
     
  12. Yankee1

    Yankee1 Well-Known Member

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    Flood or not the house is not covered for collapse.
     
  13. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    "Flood or not the house is not covered for collapse." If someone's house collapses rather than gets blown apart in a hurricane, it's not covered???? That's a new one on me!

    Let's not get confused. I don't have time to write a book but the 100 and 500 year flood zones are normally determined by engineering analysis. These are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS) that are issued by FEMA. Those are the documents that an insurance agent uses to determine in which zone your house is located to fill out the application for submittal to the underwriter.

    The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) run by FEMA has a coordinator in each state. For those of you who have been told you can't buy flood insurance, there's no reason UNLESS the county or city you live in has not quailified for the program. For those of you that have been refused, I can provide the name and number of your state NFIP coordinator. They will help you obtain flood insurance info. They are the authority in your state.

    For those of you who supposedly live in a flood plain but at an elevation above it, you can do a Letter of Map Amendment Request (LOMAR). FEMA can adjust the FIRM to change your flood zone. Your state NFIP coordinator can help you with that.
     
  14. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    I would suggest having it evaluated by a qualified structural engineer to pinpoint the cause of the wall collapse. Then have a qualified attorney review the insurance contract to see whether or not it was covered. I suspect he will have to end up suing the insurance company - and then also likely be offered an out-of-court settlement.

    I have a sister who is a personal injury automobile claims adjustor. She said her company does of lot of out-of-court settlements simply because it is cheaper than having it go to trial.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  15. antiquestuff

    antiquestuff Well-Known Member

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    If that wall collapsed, then there was something wrong with it beforehand.......old foundations are generally very well built and strong, even if they are not water tight, so, I'd say the water wasn't what actually destroyed it, but the bad wall itself being weakened from something else? Look into that.......what might have been wrong beforehand. I've seen collapsing foundations, and usually it is because of bad mortar joints (I'm talking brick ones here) and the weight of the ground outside pushing it in over several years........there MUST have been something wrong earlier with that wall.......walls don't just suddenly collapse when it rains heavy.......usually!
     
  16. mzzlisa

    mzzlisa Well-Known Member

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    Have you cousin call his agent, not just the insurance company, but the actual agent that sold him the policy. Insurance companies are a pain, but he needs to talk to a person, not the company.

    Ok, I'm going to rant here...people, please read your policies carefully. Know what your coverages are, and if you have any questions, ask. And if you don't understand the answer, ask again until you understand it. I'm a licensed insurance agent, and its amazing how many people have no idea what they are buying. And frankly, there are agents out there who will sell you just about anything. Sit down with your agent, and go over the policy line by line if you need to. Ask him exactly what is covered. What isn't. They are required to know.
     
  17. crashy

    crashy chickaholic goddess

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    If we want to have flood ins the state has to approve it. My sister in law (ex.) was in insurance and she told me that.But I am just talking about Washington state I dont know if that goes everywhere. Maybe a sink hole? I feel really bad for your coz. That sux.
     
  18. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    I am a licensed wholesale insurance broker specializing in high-end homeowners coverge. I deal with these questions every day.

    Flood damage is flood damage, regardless of whether it was in a flood plain. The standard flood exclusions on homeowners policies don't have any caveats about whether or not the home is in a flood plain. Period.

    Flood is traditionally excluded because of the high potential for a company to be bankrupted entirely by a whole region being wiped out in a flood. A peril like fire does not usually carry such a catastophic risk and can be paid for by the premium on all the other houses that did not happen to burn. Because there is a national flood insurance program that is already offering a solution, very few insurance companies have seen a real need or market for flood coverage.

    By the way, the National Flood Insurance program is actually waaay underpriced and is a pretty good deal for those who buy it, as evidenced by the fact that the program loses money almost every year and taxpayers have to bail it out. Seeing as the federal program loses money, there's no way that any company could compete with it overall. Nor does any company I know of particularly want to get into that business, to be fair.

    On some (but by no means all) homeowners policies flood damage is excluded while ensuing damage is covered. Meaning that the cost of the original water damage would be a write-off for your cousin, but the cost of the collapse might arguably be covered. Ditto for damage to the contents of the home. This is not a sure thing by any means. Every policy that I write covers that kind of ensuing damage, but I am a lot pickier about what I sell than most brokers or agents.

    I recommend getting in touch with what is called a public adjustor. A public adjustor is an independent professional who works on behalf of a client to get every penny that the client is entitled to following a loss. He will usually work on a contingency basis, meaning that he gets a predetermined percentage of the payout and you don't put any money on the table to hire him. In a tough claim situation these guys are definitely worth their price. The public adjustor usually has a background working as an adjustor for an insurance company and maybe as a contractor as well; then he goes independent. Sort of like how a lot of criminal defense lawyers start out as assistant DAs. That public adjustor will know very quickly whether there is any coverage for any portion of the loss.

    I wish you and your cousin the best of luck.

    -Jack
     
  19. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    Mzzlisa,

    The truth is that almost nobody reads their policies. It doesn't matter how good an agent you are or how hard you try. Most people's homes are grossly under-insured with regard to replacement cost and they have all sorts of coverage gaps that they are totally unaware of.

    The problem isn't usually you the agent (I am a wholesaler, licensed as an agent); it's the fact that none of your clients will take an hour to come by your office or pick up a phone and have a conversation about it that would allow you to figure out exactly what they need and tell them about gaps they should be aware of. They don't want to think about insurance and won't spend 5 minutes talking about it until either their premium goes up or they have a loss, in which case they suddenly get religion and become very interested in the whole thing.

    Sometimes the best customer is the one who has had a loss. He knows that this isn't just a very expensive piece of paper he's buying, but rather something that can determine what the rest of his life will be like if something unforeseen occurs.

    -Jack



     
  20. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    No! Don't shell out the money out-of-pocket for the engineer and the lawyer's retainer. The guy's house just collaped - he needs to hold on to every penny he can. A public adjustor will look into it on a contingency basis. Let *him* pay for the engineer if it is merited. And definitely talk to the public adjustor before the lawyer. The vast majority of lawyers don't know anything about insurance, but that doesn't stop them from pretending that they do. They think that knowing contract law makes them experts, but there is a whole range of unique case law and industry practices that is unique to insurance. I've seen lawyers plunge ahead with completely hopeless claims that just ended up wasting a lot of time and money and got their client nowhere. A simple consultation with a public adjustor would have saved them the trouble.

    The kinds of claims that a company will just pay out rather than go to trial are relatively little ones. A couple of thousand dollars - the kind of thing you usually see with auto claims. A collapsed house is a very big deal. You cannot bluff them on this. They will go to trial if they have a case. If you're going to fight for a flood claim on a policy that excludes flood coverage you had better go in there fully cocked and armed for bear.

    -Jack