Northwood, N.D. School Insurance Settlement Debated

December 14, 2007

A legislator says the state Insurance Department seems to be dragging its feet on settling a Northwood school tornado damage claim. The insurance commissioner disputes that.

Rep. Chris Griffin, D-Larimore, issued a statement Thursday saying the state should be doing more to help rebuild Northwood after an Aug. 26 tornado. Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm said the state agency is working to resolve the claim fairly and said that when “inaccurate statements surface, it only slows this process down.”

Griffin said school officials have offered to settle the claim for $8.1 million but the Insurance Department declined it. He said the state’s proposal for a lesser amount adds to the local share of the cost of rebuilding.

“If your department is unwilling to move from the $6.4 million figure … it will cost the state and local government an additional $475,000,” Griffin wrote in a letter to Hamm and state Fire and Tornado Fund director Jeff Bitz.

Hamm said the state Fire and Tornado Fund’s current total estimate of the claim is approximately $7.1 million, not $6.4 million. He said the fund’s independent adjuster and an independent restoration firm were in the school the day after the storm.

Hamm said the Northwood School District has one policy with two insurance limits _ one limit for its building valued at $8.3 million and another for personal property and content valued at $1.4 million. The total deductible for the district is $5,000, he said.

“We are working to maintain a positive and open discussion with the school and its board members to resolve this issue as quickly as possible,” Hamm stated said.

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