Oxendine Urges Camp Wheeler Residents to Remove Live Ordinance from Their Properties

November 14, 2005

Macon, Ga.-area homeowners now living in Camp Wheeler, a World War II training camp have been warned there is a good possibility mortars and grenades could be buried on their land and that they could see their homeowners claims denied, insurance costs shoot up, or even lose their insurance coverage altogether unless they permit the government remove the live ordinance from their land.

Some residents of the neighborhood, which has grown gradually in the last 30 years, told the Macon Telegraph they didn’t know about the training camp when they bought their land. The area, however, was recently identified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the most dangerous of five contaminated areas in the 14,000-acre former camp.

“Once you have knowledge and you do not take prudent action, that can be considered negligence,” John Oxendine, Georgia Insurance Commissioner said. “And negligence can be a reason an insurance company uses to deny a claim.”

Oxendine said a comparable example would be a homeowner who does not remove a diseased or dead tree before it falls and damages property.

Insurance companies can change rates or coverage at policy renewal time if they decide the home’s risks have increased in the past year. Oxendine said an insurance company that didn’t previously know about the ordnance could decide to increase the policy cost or deny coverage.

“That’s part of the maintenance of your property, and because you knew about it and had a reasonable opportunity to repair it at no cost, a reasonable person should have had it taken care of,” Oxendine said.

But some property owners in the area say they doubt their insurance coverage will be threatened. Angela Blount, who lives on Dogwood Road, said her insurance agent has lived in the area all his life and served her family for more than 20 years and the ordnance issue has never come up.

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