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City contacting residents to review insurance policies for possible duplication of benefits
Citizens who participated in the Expedited Debris Removal (EDR) process following the devastating EF-5 tornado that struck our community on May 22, 201, will receive a letter this week from the City requesting documents to assist the City in reconciling the service with the property owner’s insurance policy to ensure there is no duplication of benefits.
To initiate the EDR, property owners signed a right-of-entry (ROE) form to allow FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) government-funded contractor, the United States Corps of Engineers, to clean the loose, tornado debris from their property. In doing so, property owners were instructed that the ROE form specified that the property owner can’t receive insurance coverage to pay for the removal of storm-generated debris, as well as have the property cleaned by the federal government, also referred to as a duplication of benefits.
Due to confusing language in some insurance policies that does not separate debris removal and demolition, the City determined that the review for a duplication of benefits would not occur until affected residents had sufficient time to complete both the debris removal and any demolition required.
Now that the demolition effort is nearing completion, the City is notifying property owners to receive a copy of the their insurance policy and any payments made for demolition and/or debris removal efforts for their property to determine if there has been a duplication of benefits, as required under FEMA regulations.
The letter asks citizens to please send a copy of their insurance policy for their property that was in effect at the time of the tornado, as well as any proof of payment for demolition and/or debris removal to the Finance Department, Joplin City Hall, 602 South Main, Joplin, MO 64801 by May 31, 2012. Specific property addresses will be listed within the letter for the recipient’s reference. In some cases, citizens own more than one property, in which all properties will be listed on a single letter.
Proof of payment for demolition and/or debris removal should include a copy of a paid invoice for such services, as well as a copy of the front and back of the cancelled check or any other proof of payment. Property owners should ensure that the tornado-damaged property address is listed on the insurance policy, as well as including the owner’s phone number in case the City needs to contact them with any questions.
If residents had no insurance at the time of the tornado, they should indicate this on the bottom of the first page of this letter as well as a contact phone number and return it to the above address by May 31, 2012, even if this information was indicated on the ROE form. All insurance policies and payments made for demolition and/or debris removal will be reviewed to determine if a charge will be assessed for the removal of the loose, tornado debris from residents’ property by the government-funded contractor. There will only be a fee assessed if the 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 property owner paid a contractor $5,000 for demolition and the Corps of Engineers cleaned the loose debris from the affected property, there is no duplication of benefits and therefore, there will not be a fee assessed for this service. It must be documented that either there was no duplication of benefits or the fee set forth is collected if a duplication of benefits occurred.
In the case of a duplication of benefits, the City established a three-tier cost structure based on the size of the lot. If it is determined that a duplication of benefits has occurred, a bill 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 response from property owners is not received by this date, it will be determined that a duplication of benefits did occur and a bill will be generated for the debris cleanup at this property.
After the City reviews each property owner’s information, the owner will receive written notification stating that either there was no duplication of benefits and no charge will be assessed or a bill for the duplication of benefits will be sent.
It should be noted that this reconciliation is required by federal law and will be a lengthy process, possibly taking several months to complete. Everyone’s cooperation in this matter is appreciated.
Also, this process is for only those property owners who utilized the EDR process and signed an ROE form. If you have any questions, please call the City’s Finance Department at (417) 624-0820 ext. 244.