The people on the post Katrina coast had the same feeling though it was not confined to State Farm as we continue with the transcript of the Weatherly family’s PI’s talk with former State Farm call center employee / insurance adjuster Lorrie Beno:
A. You know, and I ran it on my house here just to see, because I just built a house and I thought that thing is coming in really high, I don’t have enough insurance on my house and it was pricing it a lot more to rebuild it, but they were – I don’t know. They wanted to pay them off on those policies. They said things to us like we got to get money into these people’s hands, it’s going to take a while to get to these wind policies, we’ve got to get some money in their hands, and that’s what they did, they paid them off on the flood, and we all kind of rolled our eyes, because we were going yeah, you want to get money into their hands that belongs to someone else, you know, as long as someone else is paying the bill, it’s good.I don’t know, you know, there were a lot of people at State Farm that were really good, honest, people, but you just always had the feeling that something wasn’t right there. I don’t trust the carriers anyways, I never have.
The public has definitely caught on to the not trusting insurer thang after their outrageous behavior here after the storm. With the first interview concluded and the PI finding Ms Beno quite the honest, open and chatty type, after consultation with the Weatherly’s legal team, a second phone call was in order and it is there we pick back up:
Q. My question here would be these folks had never been back to their house, nor had they any report from anyone as to what the condition of their home was or anything like that. So I’m wondering where that information would have – the 25 feet would come from?
A. They probably told me that, or if they weren’t sure and I did a bunch of them down in that area, I said to them, you know, a lot of that area saw like 25 feet of water, do you think that’s what your house would have gotten because if you’re not sitting up on a hill, which turns out after I had been down there, there weren’t any hills down there.
A. Would your house have seen that much? Oh, yeah, you know, okay and people agreed with it because you know they were traumatized and they wanted to get paid the limit.
A. and we knew that from mapping it was flooded out, so if it had been 18 feet instead of 25, the result would have been exactly the same.
Actually, as any slabber can tell you first hand the flood level is just one data point in the damage equation. My house for instance was around 17 feet above sea level on grade with a surge level of around 25 feet. Forgetting for a second the deleterious effects of the trash from the Port of Gulfport on stick built houses in my neighborhood that 8 feet of water was plenty enough to “total” most any house even if there was no previous wind damage. However in the case of Thomas McIntosh the surge level was just over 18.5 feet and the 2 feet or so of water in his house made the flood damage repairable and relatively small compared to the obvious wind damage they suffered. That distinction was not made on the Farm were evidently the only data point needed was the surge level regardless of whether or not the structure flooded at all as we continue:
A. So it didn’t make that much difference. We were just kind of getting a guess at it.
Q. Was that a State Farm approach or a Lorrie Beno approach?
A. No, it was State Farm.
Q. Is that something that State Farm would suggest to you all, if they haven’t been there and they haven’t heard, then you know . . .
A. Oh, absolutely.
Q. …….from other people.
A. State Farm would pay them off on these, period. I had raised an issue with them, you know, I am running into a few people that are in New Orleans or just kind of ____ that are in these areas that you are saying are flooded out but I get them and they say we didn’t get any water, or I only got water in my sun room that’s lower than the rest of the house.
A. Or that kind of thing, so I can talk to them about, you know we have to be a little bit more careful, we can’t just blankly pay these, because some of them really didn’t get flooding like that, it’s rare, but we are finding it, and so then they had backed up and said okay, make sure they got flooding in their to the best of their knowledge and then pay them off and they weren’t being tight with it at all and they weren’t being real particular. They just wanted these people paid and they knew it was going to take a long time to get anybody in there for wind.
A. And I think it was also because they didn’t want to pay off on the wind.
Q. I hear you because that would be State Farm money, rather than . . .
A. That’s right, rather than federal money.
As the PI wrapped up the second conversation he again offers Ms Beno the chance to come to New Orleans and put these statements on the record. No longer working on the Farm she agrees:
Pick a day, send me the stuff and let me review it and then you guys can pay for my flight and hotel and a car and I’ll come down.
Before we get to the deposition Slabbed shares these phone transcripts with our readership. Here is part 1 and part 2. They also look very good posted to Scribd. Out of respect for Ms. Beno’s privacy I have redacted her telephone number from these transcripts.
[scribd id=19301934 key=key-1dw3dig9zhc4jonttwlf] [scribd id=19301935 key=key-19ut1r05bs317qme0gic]
To be continued: