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(NJ.com)   NJ man files class-action lawsuit against insurance companies over definition of "basement." Farkers called in as expert witnesses   (nj.com) divider line 26
    More: Interesting, Jersey City, named plaintiff, basements, Jeffrey Bronster, insurance companies, federal district court  
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7311 clicks; posted to Main » on 27 Dec 2012 at 10:44 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-27 10:47:25 AM
Insurance companies are dicks, more at 11.
 
2012-12-27 10:48:45 AM
Knows all about basements.

3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-12-27 10:49:52 AM
According to their definitions my basement is not a basement.

The SFIP defines a basement as "any area of the building, including any sunken room or sunken portion of a room, having its floor below ground level (subgrade) on all sides.

/it's totally a basement
 
2012-12-27 10:50:21 AM
Lost our house in Long Beach NY & dealing with the same issues.

So far we are lucky but friends whose 1st floor goes down as much as an inch have gotten rejected
 
2012-12-27 10:55:51 AM
Walk-outs aren't basements? Hmm, TMYK.
 
2012-12-27 10:59:47 AM
If I recall correctly, in NYC, a basement is at least 50% below grade. A cellar is 100% below grade. At least, according to the DOB. YMMV.
 
2012-12-27 11:06:27 AM

KidneyStone: According to their definitions my basement is not a basement.


Maybe if you are nice your mom will let you move back to the upper floors
 
2012-12-27 11:15:40 AM
A someone who lived in a half-basement apartment for most of his life, i feel for him.

i live in the 3rd floor now. 35% humidity without any effort.
 
2012-12-27 11:19:35 AM
My house is built into a hill- entrance on first floor- walk out on second in the back?
 
2012-12-27 11:30:49 AM

filter: My house is built into a hill- entrance on first floor- walk out on second in the back?


The way the definition is written, you don't have a basement, but the way it is being applied by insurers, they would call it a basement because part of it is below grade.

He might actually have a case.
 
2012-12-27 11:35:31 AM
Anyone know if you have the right to have an insurance company come out BEFORE an event to certify (so to speak) that yes, your first floor is or isnt a basement and would be covered as you would expect under your policy?

Rather than waiting till that once in a century storm hits and suddenly your first floor IS a basement because the mulch in your flowerbed covers 1/10000th of an inch above the plane of your ground floor.
 
2012-12-27 11:39:57 AM
I could see how this would get very complicated, I have friends who build a house out of cinder block on 3 sides and when they were done he took his bulldozer and build a hill on 3 sides of the house. This could be a basement by their definition but it would depend on what they define as "grade". Is it grade touching the house or grade of the area around the house etc. Best to have your insurance people check out your place before you have problems in case they want another $10/month to solve these problems.
 
2012-12-27 11:42:45 AM
how long have these idiots had this insurance and had no idea what it covered?? LOL NJ is like all the 'merika memes rolled up into one pile of trash
 
2012-12-27 12:07:47 PM
Insurance companies are dicks, more at 11.

NFIP was enacted in 1968...

Congress: 90th
Years: 1967-1969

Senate: Dems 64 and Reps 36
House: Dems 248 and Reps 187

Can you guess who the reals dicks are who allowed the insurance companies to do what they do? Go ahead, guess.
 
2012-12-27 12:40:42 PM

Benjimin_Dover: Insurance companies are dicks, more at 11.

NFIP was enacted in 1968...

Congress: 90th
Years: 1967-1969

Senate: Dems 64 and Reps 36
House: Dems 248 and Reps 187

Can you guess who the reals dicks are who allowed the insurance companies to do what they do? Go ahead, guess.


Lobbyists?
 
2012-12-27 01:08:28 PM

Fizpez: Anyone know if you have the right to have an insurance company come out BEFORE an event to certify (so to speak) that yes, your first floor is or isnt a basement and would be covered as you would expect under your policy?

Rather than waiting till that once in a century storm hits and suddenly your first floor IS a basement because the mulch in your flowerbed covers 1/10000th of an inch above the plane of your ground floor.


Being Canadian (and not a Quebecer) I cannot speak to the interesting (see: sleazy, oily) methods of insurers in the various states but my assumption is that the companies are denying claims based on "material misrepresentation". In other words, they're saying "you lied to us, you told us this basement was not a basement. Your entire policy can be considered invalid" which, unfortunately is something any company (in either of our nations) can do. The natural course of action after that is challenging the company in court like in the article. Not to put all the blame for being evil on the company/ies but what should be done (and what I do here) is that before signing the policy they would inspect the home to be insured to PREVENT any misrepresented risks from being accepted. Clearly this company/these companies didn't or just generally don't. Not knowing the regional laws regarding inspection and presentation of facts this could just be situational or could be something a company/companies do specifically to be able to deny coverage at the time of a claim.

/insurance isn't evil in concept, just in practice
//tl;dbr*
///*too long; don't bother reading
 
2012-12-27 01:12:32 PM

FarkerinMN: I could see how this would get very complicated, I have friends who build a house out of cinder block on 3 sides and when they were done he took his bulldozer and build a hill on 3 sides of the house. This could be a basement by their definition but it would depend on what they define as "grade". Is it grade touching the house or grade of the area around the house etc. Best to have your insurance people check out your place before you have problems in case they want another $10/month to solve these problems.


By the NFIP definition, as long as he has to step DOWN on his way out, it's not a basement. The floor has to be below grade on all four sides.

So at the last house I lived with my parents at, the finished basement would be iffy - it was below grade 'on all sides' unless you counted the driveway to the garage as the grade for that little bit. I could see it being considered iffy. I'll note that our driveway was actually cut INTO the hill our house was built on, with a 4-5' retaining wall to keep the dirt from shifting. So one corner might be considered 'at grade'. Yeah, it'd be something I'd want to run past the insurance agent, getting his determination in *writing*.

Sort of like how my 'crawlspace' is large enough to walk in, but is still a crawlspace...
 
2012-12-27 01:33:13 PM
I live in Hoboken, which is right next to Jersey City, and I can tell you it's sad what's happened to people in ground level apartments. Just traveling up one street from the southern end to the northern end on Willow Ave. 2 days after, there were easily a several hundred apartments that were completely trashed. Some I would consider basements, others are barely below the street level if at all.
 
2012-12-27 01:38:21 PM
By their definition, my house doesn't have a basement. It sits on a slope and the back is above ground level. That didn't stop a real-estate assessor from saying the entire lower floor, including the addition that sits on a crawl-space and is entirely above grade, a basement.
 
2012-12-27 01:50:21 PM
Union City NJ? I'm going to guess this is one of the dozens of sleazy slip-and-fall lawyers whose low-end storefronts litter the streets around there.
 
2012-12-27 02:15:39 PM

Uncle Pim: If I recall correctly, in NYC, a basement is at least 50% below grade. A cellar is 100% below grade. At least, according to the DOB. YMMV.


NYC standards:

A basement is a story partly below curb level but having at least one-half of its height above the curb level. A cellar is an enclosed space having more than one-half of its height below curb level.

So if 3' of your 8-foot tall space is below street level, its a basement, if its 5' below, is a cellar
 
2012-12-27 02:22:38 PM
The fact that there is an article attached to a lawsuit to insurance companies, and we are actually sitting here trying to define what a basement is tells you all you need to know about what a bunch of scum sucking bottom dwellers insurance companies are.

You know what my solution is to this problem? Rent.

Storm destroys dwelling? Here's my finger pointing straight at the landlord. "Not my problem buddy, talk to him."

So I lost a few photos and trinkets. TVs and clothes can be replaced.
 
2012-12-27 02:27:48 PM
"My claim was denied when the insurance adjuster said my house was actually an above-ground basement."

www.personneltoday.com

/and the doghouse had no foundation
//and the Christmas lights were an "attractive nuisance" to the squirrels that chewed them and caused a fire
///and I had knowingly left a car parked in my garage with "flammable liquid" in its tank
////farkin' insurance weasels
 
2012-12-27 02:37:00 PM

tbhouston: how long have these idiots had this insurance and had no idea what it covered?? LOL NJ is like all the 'merika memes rolled up into one pile of trash


.. says the guy from Houston.

HOUSTON!
 
2012-12-27 02:45:34 PM

LemSkroob: Uncle Pim: If I recall correctly, in NYC, a basement is at least 50% below grade. A cellar is 100% below grade. At least, according to the DOB. YMMV.

NYC standards:

A basement is a story partly below curb level but having at least one-half of its height above the curb level. A cellar is an enclosed space having more than one-half of its height below curb level.

So if 3' of your 8-foot tall space is below street level, its a basement, if its 5' below, is a cellar



Wow, I was off. But the point was it's actually pretty clear. Then again, I suppose if you live on a hill it might be a bit more tricky.
 
2012-12-27 06:19:58 PM

Firethorn: FarkerinMN: I could see how this would get very complicated, I have friends who build a house out of cinder block on 3 sides and when they were done he took his bulldozer and build a hill on 3 sides of the house. This could be a basement by their definition but it would depend on what they define as "grade". Is it grade touching the house or grade of the area around the house etc. Best to have your insurance people check out your place before you have problems in case they want another $10/month to solve these problems.

By the NFIP definition, as long as he has to step DOWN on his way out, it's not a basement. The floor has to be below grade on all four sides.

So at the last house I lived with my parents at, the finished basement would be iffy - it was below grade 'on all sides' unless you counted the driveway to the garage as the grade for that little bit. I could see it being considered iffy. I'll note that our driveway was actually cut INTO the hill our house was built on, with a 4-5' retaining wall to keep the dirt from shifting. So one corner might be considered 'at grade'. Yeah, it'd be something I'd want to run past the insurance agent, getting his determination in *writing*.


This is a good question - the NFIP definition says a basement is below grade "on all sides" - but it doesn't talk about whether that means the entire side or if it's any portion on the sides. If that's what's going on in TFA, it's a good matter for the courts to decide.

From my perspective, the part that's important should be this: if water comes in, can it get out without a pump? The amount of damage from a flood is magnified the longer water sits (particularly mold issues).

Of course, the article refuses to comment on any of that, the closest thing to actual content is a quote from an attorney saying "it's technical". Way to go, reporter guy...
 
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