Follow the Money Part II: Putting the Screws to the Common Man

Folks this Cowboy saw this in today’s Sun Herald and would like to give a big tip of my 10 gallon hat to Anita Lee over Sun Herald way. Our work raising insurance awareness would not be possible without the bang up job done by Ms. Lee covering these issues and this Cowboy would like to thank Ms. Lee for her dedication to this issue. Notice who represents USAA. It’s none other than our boy Greg Copeland who has his fingers in every insurance pie here in Mississippi.

Today we see her story on the Aiken lawsuit against USAA and once again the hos at Rimkus and their proclivity to change on site work sight unseen is on display. Don’t worry folks them boys are telling us all these changed engineering reports are just an honest mistake…..and if you believe that I got some gold spray painted Pig Scat I wanna sell you for $400/ounce. The story in it’s entirety:

Structural engineer testifies in USAA trial

By ANITA LEE
SUN HERALD

GULFPORT –A structural engineer admitted he changed a report that detailed Hurricane Katrina damage to a homeowner’s property, but told a jury he did so for accuracy and clarity rather than to downplay wind damage so USAA Casualty Insurance Co. would owe less money.

Structural engineer James W. Jordan reviewed several changes he made to the report completed by engineer Roverta Chapa, who actually inspected the property at Henderson Point on the Bay of St. Louis in Harrison County. Chapa and Jordan did not communicate before Jordan made the changes, which was against policy established by Jordan’s employer, Rimkus Consulting Group Inc.

Policyholders David W. and Marilyn M. Aiken claim Rimkus and USAA conspired to defraud them. They want their insurance claim paid in full, plus extra damages to punish the companies. Their lawsuit will resume this morning with testimony from Chapa.

Rimkus and USAA claim the Aikens are seeking more money than they deserve because federal flood insurance paid them policy limits for tidal surge damage, while USAA offered a check to cover what the wind could have destroyed. USAA and other insurance companies exclude such flood damage from coverage, which has led to hundreds of disputes between policyholders and insurers. However, this is the first case with claims of fraudulent engineering reports to reach trial in federal court.

The Aikens maintain a tornado destroyed their vacation home before 25 feet of water inundated the property.

USAA attorney Greg Copeland told the jury during opening arguments that the Aikens simply wanted to maximize their payments for Katrina damage. Their flood coverage totalled $278,000. USAA paid $178,205 in structural and contents damage on a policy that provided more than $680,000 in coverage.

But the Aikens’ attorney, George W. Healy IV, told the jury that evidence would show the companies “intentionally and with forethought came up with a plan to deny legitimate claims.”

Rimkus attorney David Ward said testimony will show the Aikens hired their own engineer because David Aiken accompanied the Rimkus engineer on his inspection and knew the engineer thought water had caused most of the damage. Ward told the jury they would hear firsthand about communications between Rimkus and USAA, so they should not believe Healy. “You can be the judge of the facts,” he said, “not the allegations.”

4 thoughts on “Follow the Money Part II: Putting the Screws to the Common Man”

  1. Cowboy, when you come up for air check out our hit meter. :-)

    Welcome to our new and returning readership. My sincerest thanks for finding our viewpoints (diverse though they may be) worthy of your time.

    sop

  2. Thank you for stopping in Mr. USAA Loyal Opposition. I hate posting links in these comments because blogger doesn’t seem to like them. I use tinyurl.com as a way to shorten links in blogger comments.

    Great question on the picture from the 2004 USAA report Mr. USAA Loyal Opposition, since I’m not an engineer I won’t hazard a guess.

    As an eye witness to Katrina’s destruction I will stipulate that I saw a good bit wind damage including some to my own house but it was the flood waters that slabbed most people.

    However even what I witnessed doesn’t convey the true magnitude of damage from wind. A house with its windows blown out and its roofing system compromised is just as “trashed” for lack of a better word by wind driven rain as one that flooded to the ceilings and somehow stood.

    In this particular case the problem I see for USAA is the engineers did not follow their own protocol in producing the report. I did not hear yesterday’s testimony so I can’t comment further beyond the press account from yesterday (which covered the previous day’s testimony).

    Any clarification you can offer would be most appreciated.

    sop

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