Hamm Responds to Comments on Northwood School Claim
Posted on 12/5/2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Adam Hamm
December 5, 2007
Bismarck, ND - Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm said today that some recent comments by a legislator and school officials regarding the Northwood School insurance claim are inaccurate. The Northwood school suffered damage during a severe storm and tornado on August 26 and has submitted a claim to the Insurance Department's Fire and Tornado Fund.
"We are working to maintain a positive and open discussion with the school and its board members to resolve this issue as quickly as possible," said Hamm. "As of last week, school officials had agreed to work with the Fund in a positive manner to resolve the claim. When inaccurate statements surface, it only slows this process down."
Hamm pointed out that the Fire and Tornado Fund's current total estimate of the claim is approximately $7.1 million, not the reported $6.4 million. Also incorrect is that the Fund did not promptly analyze damage to the building. The Fund's independent adjuster and an independent restoration firm were in the school the day after the storm.
"We had widely respected experts do a thorough and complete examination of the damage during numerous visits to the school," Hamm explained. "Accurate evaluation of the loss based on sound engineering principles is what is called for in this matter. While we are sensitive to the emotions behind this issue, we are bound by the Fund's legal responsibilities and the terms of the policy."
Regarding the approximate $500,000 that was spent on emergency repairs and to mitigate further damages, Hamm clarified that the Northwood School Board and School officials participated in and supported all decisions made. The Northwood School was following the standard policy obligation to minimize more damage being done to the structure.
"While we understand and appreciate local concerns, the Department has a duty to maintain the solvency of the Fire and Tornado Fund and to settle all claims in a fair and consistent manner," Hamm stated.
The Northwood School District has one policy with the Fund which has two insurance limits - one limit is for its building valued at $8.3 million and a second for personal property and content valued at $1.4 million. The total deductible for the district is $5,000.
The Fire and Tornado Fund is a state run insurance entity housed at the North Dakota Insurance Department. It insures the building and contents of most of the State's political subdivisions.