North Carolina Resolves Hurricane Irene Claims

North Carolina regulators have recovered over $400,000 for policyholders stemming from claims filed in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

At the same time, the regulators are calling for a five year extension in the federal flood insurance program and a review of the program.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin released a memorandum summarizing the state’s response to Hurricane Irene.

Irene swept through parts of the state in August 2011, causing widespread damage to homes and crops. In September, North Carolina officials estimated the total damage would top $150 million including $70 million in personal losses and more than $37 million in crop damage.

Goodwin said that as of January 1, the department had handled 272 written complaints submitted by homeowners and farmers along with 725 phone calls. As a result, the department recovered more than $400,000 from insurers to resolve the Irene claims.

The majority of complaints stemmed from unsatisfactory claim settlement offers, delays in payment, and claims denials.

“I applaud the efforts to help North Carolina citizens recover from Hurricane Irene and from future storms,” said Goodwin. “I will continue to provide assistance in any way possible.”

Policyholders also complained that banks and mortgage lenders refused to sign off on claim’s checks until those repairs were complete, leaving some homeowners without the funds to fix any damage to their property. Goodwin said he has raised the issue with the state banking commissioner to prevent this from happening after future storms.

Along with the wind damage, many homeowners along the state’s coastline suffered from severe flooding, which led to criticism over the federal government’s response in handling flood claims.

Since then, Goodwin has encouraged the North Carolina congressional delegation to support the extension on the National Flood Insurance Program by five years and to examine its operations in the state.

“Given the overall complaints and complications North Carolina suffered as a result of the National Flood Insurance Program, I encourage Congress to examine that program’s response to Irene,” said Goodwin.