Monday, March 31, 2008
To help the process go smoothly, recovery officials are offering the following suggestions:
- Use local contractors first. If you were satisfied with past work done by local licensed contractors, try them first. If they cannot help you, ask for recommendations. If you must hire a contractor you don't know, talk to several of them before signing anything.
- Ask for references. Contractors should be willing to provide names of previous customers. Contact some of those customers and ask if they would hire the contractor again.
- Ask for a written estimate. Make sure it includes everything you expect the contractor to do. Also, find out up-front if the contractor will charge a fee for that estimate.
- Ask for proof of insurance. Be sure the contractor has disability and workers' compensation insurance. If not, you may be liable for accidents on your property.
- Get a written contract. The contract should clearly state all work, costs and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. It may also be worthwhile to have an attorney look at the contract before signing it.
- Ask for guarantees in writing (if separate from the contract). If the contractor provides guarantees, he/she should clearly state what is covered by that guarantee, who is responsible for fulfilling the guarantee (dealer, contractor or manufacturer), and how long the guarantee is valid.
- Get a copy of the final, signed contract. Read it over carefully before signing. Once signed, the contract is binding on both you and the contractor.
- Do not sign off before the job is finished. Make sure the work is done to your satisfaction before signing completion papers or making a final payment. A reputable contractor will not threaten you or pressure you to sign if the job is not finished properly.
Check references, obtain written estimates and avoid large cash payments up front. Check with the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs, your area's Better Business Bureau and other appropriate local and state agencies.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Call your insurance company and speak to the claims person (adjuster).
- Generally, your adjuster will contact you within 24-48 hours after receiving your notice of loss. However, depending on local conditions and the severity of flooding, it may take more time.
- The adjuster will likely want to meet with you at your house to inspect the damage.
- Take good notes and keep track of the dates of any conversations you have with your agent or adjuster.
You are required to protect your home from further damage.
- This might include boarding up your home if there was damage to the building or cleaning up water from a backed up drain.
You will need to provide proof of your loss; having receipts/pictures will help.
- Separate damaged items from undamaged items. If necessary, place damaged items outside the home.
- Local officials may require the disposal of damaged items. If you dispose of items, please keep a swatch, sample or picture of the damaged items for the adjuster.
Don’t feel rushed or pushed into agreeing with the amount paid for your claim if you’re not comfortable with it.
- It might help to have your contractor meet with you and the insurance adjuster.
If you have trouble or questions, contact FEMA at 1-800-427-4661.
Disaster recovery numbers through Monday, March 24 include:
- $3,147,185 has been approved through FEMA's Individuals and Households Program for housing assistance, including rental assistance and repairs to homes for eligible applicants. Of that, $2,219,181 is for housing assistance and $928,004 is to help applicants cover other essential disaster-related needs.
- $6,249,500 in loans to homeowners, renters and business owners has been approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
- 3,038 residents have visited Disaster Recovery Centers operated jointly by FEMA and the state of Tennessee.
- 2,289 home inspections have been completed.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Under the terms of this settlement, AIG will:
- Pay $9.1 million to the state in penalties and investigative costs for financial misreporting;
- Provide detailed annual reports regarding the company’s reinsurance arrangements;
- Provide extensive commission disclosure to commercial customers; and
- Implement business reforms and cooperate in any related investigations.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Typical reasons for a denial because of incomplete information are that the applicant did not:
- Provide proof that the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster;
- Provide evidence of identity;
- Provide documentation of the disaster damage;
- Provide proof of ownership of the damaged property;
- Sign documents.
Other reasons FEMA might send a denial letter that may be appealed are that the damages and losses are covered by insurance; that the applicant has not completed and returned the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan application; or that the damages were too small to qualify for assistance. If an applicant receives an award but believes the amount to be too low, an appeal for a higher award can be submitted with documentation to support the increased cost. Appeals must be made within 60 days of a denial letter. Applicants or someone they designate to act on their behalf must explain in writing why they believe the initial response was wrong and provide any new or additional information and documents that support the appeal.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Federal and state disaster recovery officials urge eligible residents who have not done so to apply as soon as possible by calling the toll-free registration number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or, for the speech or hearing impaired, TTY 1-800-462-7585. Individuals also may register for disaster assistance at the FEMA website www.fema.gov.
Applicants who have questions about the disaster assistance programs or questions about the status of their previously filed applications should continue to use FEMA's toll-free Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.
To date, more than 2,400 Indiana residents have applied for disaster assistance. The total disaster funds approved for individuals affected by the disaster now tops $12 million, which includes approximately $6 million in low-interest SBA disaster loans for individuals and businesses.
The average medical payment per claim in Michigan was the lowest among the 14 study states, 31 percent lower than the median for injuries arising in 2003 with experience through the first quarter of 2006. Payments per claim for lost wages, known as indemnity benefits, with more than seven days of lost time were 19 percent lower in Michigan than the 14-state median for 2003/2006 claims.
This was due to two factors, according to WCRI. First, despite the fact that Michigan is a wage-loss benefit system, the duration of temporary disability in Michigan was 4 to 15 weeks shorter than in the three other wage-loss states in the study (Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania).
Secondly, some workers received lower benefits and other workers received higher benefits under the Michigan benefit structure than they would have under a typical benefit structure.
A factor that contributed to lower indemnity benefits per claim was the benefit structure in Michigan, which bases weekly benefits on 80 percent of the worker’s after-tax (spendable) earnings, rather than on the more typical two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage. Also, the statutory weekly benefit maximum in Michigan is set at 90 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, rather than the more typical 100 percent.
When compared with the benefit structure common in most study states, about 16 percent of workers (the lowest paid workers) get higher weekly benefits under the spendable earnings approach in Michigan. Some 49 percent of workers get weekly benefits that are within 5 percent of the typical benefit approach; 18 percent get 5-10 percent lower weekly benefits due to the spendable earnings approach; and 17 percent get 10 percent lower weekly benefits due to the lower maximum temporary disability benefit rate.
The study, CompScope™ Benchmarks for Michigan, 8th Edition, provides a comparison of the workers’ comp systems in Michigan and 13 other states on key performance measures such as benefit payments and costs per claim, timeliness of payments, and defense attorney involvement by analyzing a similar group of claims and adjusting for interstate differences in industry mix, wage levels, and injury type.
The other states in the study were Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
Overall, the study showed that growth in total costs per claim in Michigan was 6 percent in the most recent study year, following two years of little change.
Total costs per claim with more than seven days of lost time in Michigan grew 6-8 percent per year over most of the study period. Growth averaged 6 percent per year over the most recent two years, the product of three main factors: (1) rapid growth of 9 percent per year in medical payments per claim; (2) little change in indemnity benefits per claim (less than 3 percent per year on average); and (3) 8 percent per year growth in benefit delivery expenses per claim.
Growth in medical-legal expenses per claim accelerated through much of the study period, from 4 percent in 2002/2003 to 6 percent in 2003/2004 and 11 percent in 2004/2005. This may be related to the aftermath of a number of recent court decisions surrounding the definition of disability and right to continuing wage-loss benefits, WCRI noted.
WCRI reported that injury reporting time in Michigan was the slowest among the 14 states, resulting in a somewhat longer time from injury to first indemnity payment. However, the speed of initial payments once the payor received notice of injury was faster in Michigan than in most study states.
The percentage of claims paid within 21 days of injury in Michigan improved, rising by about 1 point per year from 2002/2003 to 2005/2006. The major contributing factor was an increase of 5 points overall in the percentage of claims paid within 14 days of payor notice over the three most recent years.
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Farmers residing in the following contiguous counties who sustained storm-related losses are also eligible to be considered for FSA emergency help: Anderson, Barren, Bourbon, Boyle, Breckinridge, Bullitt, Butler, Caldwell, Clark, Cumberland, Edmonson, Garrard, Grayson, Green, Jefferson, Jessamine, Larue, Logan, Madison, McLean, Metcalfe, Nelson, Ohio, Scott, Simpson, Todd, Trigg, Warren, Washington, Woodford, Bracken, Crittenden, Fleming, Franklin, Grant, Henry, Menifee, Montgomery, Oldham, Pendleton, Robertson, Rowan and Webster.
FSA may make emergency loans to farmers and ranchers (owners or tenants) who were operating and managing a farm or ranch at the time of the disaster. These loans are limited to the amount necessary to compensate for actual losses to essential property and/or production capacity. Farmers and ranchers may also apply for cost-sharing grants for emergency conservation programs such as debris removal from crop/pasture lands, repairs to land/water conservation structures, and permanent fencing. Further information is available from FSA. Farmers interested in applying for assistance should contact their local FSA county office.
The top companies in the study were:
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