Wednesday, September 22, 2010
by Broderick Perkins
© 2010 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - Forget the promise from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) head who said you'd have your claim paid within 48 hours.
Don't expect the new claims facility to maintain documentation from a claim you previously filed with the former claims facility run by BP.
And that larger, six-months-of-lost-income payment promised in a single check?
Vaction rental owners, asked about their experiences trying to collect on claims for lost income are howling with frustration after Kenneth Feinberg publicly reneged on promises to streamline the Gulf oil claims process and dole out checks faster than BP.
As of Sept. 9, the vast majority of GCCF claims filed for lost earnings or profits went unpaid, according to GCCF's own statistics.
Lost income claims comprise the bulk of all claims filed.
"It's taking longer than I had hoped," Feinberg told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
"There are many, many claims where we have violated our own rule. Those critics who say Ken Feinberg raised our expectations and then is not living up to those expectations, they're absolutely right, and I owe them an apology," he said.
Before taking over Feinberg promised to have some claims processed in a day or two and to grant up to six months of lost income in one payment.
However, Feinberg's spokeswoman Amy Weiss told investigative newsroom ProPublica, "The announced 48-hour claim determination rule for individual claims, and the seven-day claim determination rule for business claims will be extended as necessary and appropriate."
Weiss said they've been snowed under by the volume and complexity of the required supporting documents that require "careful scrutiny and attention to assure that each claimant will be afforded the benefit of the most generous payment."
The chaotic claims system, with a confusing cycle of frequent change, has been in disarray since it was launched shortly after the April 20, 2010 explosion and fire that ruptured an oil well, killed 11 workers, sank the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and became the nation's greatest environmental disaster ever.
Before Feinberg opened GCCF on Aug. 23, BP handled claims through ESIS, a claims management and processing firm that also often bungled the job.
Two weeks into GCCF's turn, critics reluctantly say the BP system was a better deal.
"I never thought I'd say this, but part of me would like BP back and that's kind of a frustrating place to be," said George Sheldon a member of Florida's Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force.
Only about one in four, 75 percent, of claims filed for lost income or profits have been paid -- 46,543 filed, compared with 11,483 paid, as of Sept. 9.
Claims for lost income comprise 75 percent of all claims, which also include removal and clean up costs, real or personal property damage, loss of subsistence use of natural resources and physical injury or death.
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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group, including DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site, and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop.
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Perkins is managing editor of HomeAway.com's Gulf Coast Response Center.
Perkins was the first Examiner to cover three beats for the Examiner.com news service:
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• National Consumer News Examiner
• National Offbeat News Examiner
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