August 19, 2016

Larson, Cassano, Osten and Flexer Urge Insurance Companies to Join in Crumbling Foundation Repairs

State Senators Tim Larson (D-East Hartford), Steve Cassano (D-Manchester), Catherine Osten (D-Sprague), Mae Flexer (D-Killingly) and other state legislators have written to more than 40 insurance companies—including several in Connecticut—asking them to join a state effort to repair the crumbling foundations of hundreds of Connecticut homeowners.

More than 200 homes in central and eastern Connecticut have crumbling foundations, believed to be caused in part by the presence of the mineral pyrrhotite in the concrete used by a private Stafford Springs business contractor to pour the home foundations.

The state Departments of Consumer Protection, Insurance, and the Attorney General’s Office are investigating, and the state has created The Crumbling Concrete Assistance Program to assist homeowners with replacing their crumbling foundations.

“The insurance companies who have not yet stepped up to the table to work out a solution need to be held accountable, one way or another,” said Sen. Larson, who has attended several meetings on the issue. “This is a terrible failure on their part not to recognize what will be a truly catastrophic situation for their policyholders and customers.”

“I think everyone has a stake in resolving this issue: the homeowners, of course, as well as the cities and towns that collect taxes on these properties, the banks that hold the mortgages, insurers who could be on the hook for paying damages, and the state, which is often the refuge of last resort when no one else is able or willing to pay,” said Sen. Cassano, who led the letter-writing campaign. “If everyone helps out, no one has an insurmountable financial responsibility. But there’s been a lot of silence from a number of insurers, and we’re trying to get them to commit to this program.”

“Finding out in your golden years that your home, your greatest asset, is essentially worthless or so severely damaged that it could be condemned is a tragedy,” said Sen. Osten, who is Senate Chair of the legislature’s Planning and Development Committee. “Finding out that your insurance company not only refuses to cover the damage, but won’t support a program that could help you recover from this? I think that will make many people think twice about doing business with those companies. We all need to contribute to this solution, and insurance companies must play their part.”

“Many of the people who are dealing with the possibility that their homes may collapse due to a faulty, crumbling foundation have been paying their homeowners insurance premiums along with their mortgage for years,” said Sen. Flexer, whose Senate district covers much of eastern Connecticut. “While insurance companies are not the single solution to this problem, they need to be a part of the solution and stand up for their customers.”

In the letter, the 16 legislators—House and Senate members, Democrats and Republicans—call for a team effort to address the problem of crumbling foundations.

“In order for this urgently needed program to work, it is critical that a significant number of insurance companies that operate in the region take part,” the bipartisan group wrote to insurers late Thursday. “The Hartford and Travelers, as well as two additional unidentified insurance companies, were quick to step up to the plate, but we and our constituents are still waiting for other insurers to join them in participating in this necessary program.”

“This problem will not go away on its own. The situation calls for constructive action that will help not only those individuals and families affected, but that will also protect the broader housing markets and communities they live in,” legislators wrote. “We hope that your company will join us in making every possible effort to be sure that these homeowners—our constituents and your customers—are not left to bear the burden of this crisis on their own.”

The letter was sent to dozens of insurance companies in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Rhode Island, Delaware, California, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Vermont and New Jersey.