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Thursday, November 29, 2012
City of Joplin to seek information from property owners in tornado area
(From the City of Joplin)
The City of Joplin will soon mail letters to residential property owners who signed a Right of Entry (ROE) form in the Expedited Debris Removal (EDR) process seeking authorization to receive specific insurance policy information from their agencies. This is necessary in order to determine if a duplication of benefits has been incurred by the property owner during the debris and demolition phases following the May 22, 2011 tornado.
Specifically, those property owners who signed an ROE form for the Expedited Debris Removal (EDR) process are requested to provide permission for the City to receive some policy details during this next step of an ongoing effort to reconcile private insurance reimbursements and government services rendered during the previous EDR phase.
Expedited Debris Removal was a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) program that allowed FEMA’s government-funded contractor, the United States Corps of Engineers, to clean the loose, tornado debris from residential properties after the property owner signed the ROE. In signing the form, the property owner agreed that they would not seek a “duplication of benefit” that is defined as receiving insurance coverage to pay for the removal of storm-generated debris, in addition to having their loose debris removed from their property by a government-funded contractor, as was done through the EDR program.
In recent months, the City has been working with property owners and requested insurance documents to learn more about their insurance coverage in order to know whether a duplication of benefits has occurred. Unfortunately, it is not possible to determine if there has been a duplication of benefits from the information that was originally requested by the City. Therefore, the City has consulted with the insurance carriers, and has determined that the most accurate information can be provided directly by the property owner’s insurance company. However, in order for the insurance companies to give the benefit information to the City, property owners will need to sign a release authorizing this information can be forwarded to the City. This release form needs to be signed and returned to the City of Joplin by January 4, 2013.
“More than 18 months have passed since the devastating tornado swept through the City, and most residential property owners have completed their insurance settlements on debris removal and demolition from their property,” said Leslie Jones, Finance Director for the City of Joplin. “It is now time to reconcile the EDR process and ensure that property owners did not receive a duplication of benefits. Basically, residents cannot have received a payment from their insurance company AND also utilized the EDR. That’s a duplication.”
Jones explained that if residents did have a duplication, there will be a fee assessed for the work completed during the EDR process, and the amount depends on the size of the property lot.
“We are looking for property owners to respond to this request,” she said. “The information provided by their insurance carriers will help determine if a duplication of benefits occurred for the removal of the loose, tornado debris from their property by the government-funded contractor. There will only be a fee assessed if a property owner received insurance proceeds for the loose, debris cleanup and did not use those proceeds for the cleanup effort. “
For example, if an insurance policy provided $5,000 for the cleanup of both debris and demolition, and the Corps of Engineers cleaned the loose debris from the affected property, and the property owner paid a contractor $5,000 for demolition of the structure, there is no duplication of benefits. Therefore, a fee will NOT be assessed for this service. It must be documented that either there was no duplication of benefits or the fee assessed according to your lot size is collected if a duplication of benefits occurred.
During the process of developing the Right of Entry form, the City had established a three-tier cost structure based on the size of the lot, when discussing the possibility of a duplication of benefits.
Lot Size Cost 0 to 10,000 square feet $1,500.00 10,001 square feet to ½-acre $2,500.00 ½-acre and greater $4,000.00
If it is determined that a duplication of benefits has occurred, a bill for the lot size based on this three-tier cost structure will be generated. The proceeds from any duplication of benefits are required to be returned to FEMA.
According to federal regulations, if a property owner does not sign the authorization form and return it by January 4, 2013, it will be determined that a duplication of benefits did occur and a bill will be generated for the debris cleanup at their property.
After the City reviews the property owner’s insurance information, they will receive written notification stating that either there was no duplication of benefits and no charge will be assessed or they will receive a bill for the duplication of benefits. However, this will be a lengthy process and may take several months.
The City does appreciate everyone’s assistance in this effort. For questions about this final step in the process, please call the City at (417) 624-0820 ext. 244.