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Congressional Delegation Presses Insurers to Help Homeowners With Bad Concrete

by | Aug 10, 2016 11:20am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Business, Consumer Protection, Insurance

shutterstock Members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation continue to push insurers to help provide relief to homeowners plagued by crumbling home foundations.

On Tuesday, Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney and John Larson, released letters they jointly sent to insurance companies operating in the state. The letters outline efforts the state is proposing to help homeowners in Eastern and Central Connecticut — and call on insurers to offer relief.

“Each of us has personally visited homes with these crumbling foundations and seen first-hand the emotional and financial toll that this condition has taken on homeowners,” the lawmakers wrote to 34 insurers who have not yet joined the state’s Crumbling Concrete Assistance Program, which allows affected homeowners to receive some compensation.

“Repair costs for this problem are often in excess of $150,000, a significant financial burden for people who are either retired or are still paying off their mortgages,” the letter says.

Since August 2015, the state has been investigating why more than 200 homeowners in eastern Connecticut have had deteriorating foundations, all of which were poured by Stafford Springs-based J.J. Mottes Co. in the early 1980s through the late 1990s and contain material from a quarry run by Willington-based Becker Construction Co.

The state’s investigation into the potential cause of the problem is due to conclude by Jan. 1, and the companies have meanwhile agreed to stop selling certain materials from the Becker quarry in question, but many homeowners still are struggling with the huge expense of repairs.

On July 12, Courtney, Blumenthal, Murphy, and Larson met with representatives from three of the largest insurers operating in the affected region — Liberty Mutual, State Farm, and Allstate. On Tuesday they sent a follow-up letter, pressing them again to join the Crumbling Concrete Assistance Program.

“The urgency of this problem is clear. Failure to enact a workable plan to provide relief will have a lasting impact not just on homeowners and communities, but on all those connected to the housing market, including insurers,” the lawmakers said in their letters. “We hope that your company will be a constructive and collaborative part of making this plan work in order to provide needed relief to your customers, their neighbors, and our communities.”

Two insurance companies, The Hartford and Travelers, have agreed to participate in the assistance program and were sent letters of thanks by the lawmakers.

The Office of the State Attorney General and state Department of Consumer Protection have been spearheading the investigation into foundations.

“I’m grateful to our federal delegation members for their strong support and advocacy on behalf of this (assistance) program,” Attorney General George Jepsen said in a statement.

The program not only helps Connecticut families, but benefits insurers as well, he said. It caps insurers’ financial exposure and releases them from “uncertainties of existing and potential litigation by homeowners who participate, as well as from any claims the Department of Insurance may have for unfair insurance practices.”

Jepsen added, “I’m grateful to those few companies who have indicated their willingness as good corporate citizens to participate, but I would urge their peers to join in this effort to help Connecticut homeowners in desperate need of assistance.”

Last month, the Department of Consumer Protection found that no consumer protection laws were broken in the course of the construction of the foundations. The finding is not surprising given the framework of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUPTA), which requires that officials prove a deceptive act or practice in order to file a claim, according to Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris.

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