New PAs Now in Suspension…
Effective this past Friday, CFSIC has suspended the issuance of new Participation Agreements until it receives its next round of funding, which is anticipated to happen this summer.
To be clear…we are still very much moving Active claimants into line to receive PAs in future…we’re just not sending new PAs to claimants while we are in suspension.
We are expecting to receive approximately $10.6 million to $11.0 million from the Healthy Homes surcharge perhaps as early as the end of June and, in addition, another $25 million from the CT Bond Commission as early as July or August of 2022.
When these funds are received, starting with the Healthy Homes surcharge funds, we’ll immediately re-open the Participation Agreement line.
By way of reminder, CFSIC’s Superintendent has directed that the captive will always maintain a minimum operational cash balance, so that we can continue our work while we are between funding allotments. This is particularly important since we are now rapidly opening Pending claim files and moving Tier 1 Pending claimants into the Participation Agreement line as quickly as our process permits.
Our goal is simple: make Pending claimants Active; make Active claimants eligible to receive a PA. We are moving as quickly as we can to make this happen.
CFSIC Re-certification Program…
On January 12, we conducted our 2022 home inspector and professional engineer re-certification course. As always, this was a comprehensive course designed to keep inspection skills up to date in the science of pyrrhotite-associated foundation failure.
CFSIC’s course is the only one of its kind in the world.
Clarifying Severity Class Code 1 Foundations…
The Superintendent has directed that CFSIC publish a guidance on the visual inspection of foundations as it relates specifically to the classification of a foundation as a Severity Class 1. (This guidance does not apply to Severity Class 2s or 3s.)
Beginning immediately, the Superintendent has directed that in order for a Severity Class 1 to be validly applied through a visual inspection undertaken by one of our certified inspection professionals or a CT-licensed professional engineer not otherwise certified by CFSIC, 50% or more of the measurable wall space of the foundation must be visible to the professional assigning the severity class code. Otherwise, no Severity Class 1 code can be applied, and the professional must designate the foundation as “unable to certify.”
It is important to remember that a visual inspection cannot be successfully accomplished for a Severity Class 1 if 50% or more of the interior foundation area is simply not visible.
To be clear: the requirement that any home sold after February 1, 2019 must have, in order to qualify for a potential CFSIC claim, EITHER a visual inspection report or a core sample report prior to the date of sale, is not compromised by this guidance. Nowhere in CFSIC’s guidelines is it required that the visual inspection must be severity coded in order to satisfy this requirement…the only requirement CFSIC has with regard to the February 1, 2019 rule is that one or the other has to have taken place: a visual inspection or a core test. This is an important fact that is not widely understood, particularly by some professionals in the real estate community.
No claimant ever becomes an Active claimant in CFSIC without a severity class code (and it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a Class 3, 2 or 1)…so we draw everyone’s attention to the difference between what the rule is for homes purchased on or after February 1, 2019 as opposed to CFSIC’s rule about how you qualify to be an Active claimant. The first rule gets you in the door at CFSIC; but unless you have a Severity Class code you will never actually become an Active claimant. We encourage real estate agents in particular to pay close attention to this very important distinction.
Professionals undertaking a visual examination where a Severity Class code of 1 might normally apply will never be required to provide that designation to a foundation if they cannot see 50% or more of what they are trying to classify.
Good News for Severity Class 2s…
Just this past week CFSIC provided the last of a large number of Severity Class 2 claimants with Participation Agreements. These are victims of the crisis who have been waiting in line in many cases since January 10, 2019. All Active Severity Class 2 claimants in our system who entered the PA line prior to July 5, 2021 now have Participation Agreements…this is a major milestone.
Many of these victims of the crisis were deeply concerned that the reality of a foundation replacement might for them be many more years away. We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made with Severity Class 2 claimants.
There is much more news to come in the coming months as Severity Class 2s now begin the remediation process. Our goal is to continue to move Severity Class 2 claimants into line as quickly as our funding permits.
Some Facts and Figures
As we prepare to close 2021, let’s take a look at the numbers:
– 1,913 registered claimants in our system;
– 1,802 Type 1 claimants and 111 Type 2 claimants registered (Active, Inactive, and Pending);
– 1,141 Severity Class 3 claimants (Active, Inactive, and Pending);
– 37 Type 1, Severity Class 2 claimants have now been issued Participation Agreements, with a total of 773 claims covered by Participation Agreements, and therefore eligible for funding;
– CFSIC had put 459 families back in homes with new foundations, inclusive of 47 condominium units;
– CFSIC has made $84,188,161 in claim payments to date.
The Cap Is Going Up…
The cap on allowable construction costs will rise to $190,000 from $175,000 for stand-alone homes, and to $76,000 from $70,000 for condo units, effective 9:00 AM on January 5, 2022.
The Superintendent has conducted research on the issue over the past three months, with particular regard to the costs of materials and labor, and the difficulties with supply chain management. With the full support of CFSIC’s board, the Superintendent has made the decision to increase the caps in place.
Because the calculation of the cap can only be done by first using the linear and square footage factors applying, those will change as well. The current $719 maximum allowable cost calculation per linear foot of house foundation will rise from $719 to $777. The square foot maximum allowable costs for basement slab currently at $27 will rise to $30. The maximum allowable cost per linear foot of garage foundation will go from $657 to $710. The maximum allowable costs per square foot of garage slab will rise from $12 to $13.
We remind everyone that CFSIC currently permits special calculations for slab on grade construction. These will change as well. For linear per foot foundation measurements, the maximum allowable cost factor will go from $1,012 to $1,093, with the square foot of slab on grade itself maximum allowable cost moving from $29 to $31. (For garage calculations, see above, as these will be the same.)
These changes will apply to any new construction proposals submitted to ESIS for the first time on or after January 5, 2022. What does this mean?…if you have at any point between January 10, 2019 and January 5, 2022 submitted construction proposals to ESIS, the old cap applies to you.
As an example, if you are currently an Active claimant (and you already know that you need to get into the Participation Agreement line by 5:00 PM on January 5 or be taken out of the system), please understand that you will be unable to wait until January 5 and submit two new proposals at the new cap and at the new factors. As will be clearly understood, it is not going to be possible for staff to review your new proposals and approve them, for you to then have one of them executed, for your contractor to then submit all needed documentation, and for you to then be moved into the Participation Agreement line…all within 24 hours.
But here’s what’s more important… you will already have submitted proposals to ESIS. Therefore, it will not be for the “first time” when you re-submit. We at CFSIC can’t pretend that we already didn’t have proposals on your remediation prior to January 5.
We’ve supplied a few questions and answers to help everyone understand these changes.
Question: Will contractors be able to download a new template to calculate linear/square footage costs?
Answer: The template will be up online on this site on January 5 on or before 9:00 AM. The new template (including the new factors) cannot be used before that date and time, and any such proposals staff receive before that time will be rejected.
Question: I’ve heard that the current cap of $175,000 is not nearly enough. What makes you think that going to $190,000 is that much better?
Answer: We think you’ve heard wrong. Under the current $175,000 cap, our average allowable costs are actually right at $160,236. Contrary to what has been suggested in social media, the cap has always worked. It will continue to work as a way to spread limited funds among as many victims as we can.
Question: Are any other parts of the program changing on January 5?
Answer: No. For example, the relatively new requirement that if a homeowner has progress payments due, then the total of these progress payments must be evenly spaced in sync with contractor progress payments throughout the project, will remain in place.
Question: It doesn’t seem fair that just as you’re starting to open up Pending claimant files, Pending claimants get a bigger benefit than claimants who signed up on Day One. I think what I’ll do is withdraw myself from the Participation Agreement line and start all over again.
Answer: The system permits you to withdraw your claim from the PA line. But here’s what happens if you do: you would then reapply and automatically become a Tier 2 Pending claimant on a foundation for which you had originally provided proposals prior to January 5, 2022, and therefore you would have wasted your time…for while you think you would get the benefit of the increased cap, you would not, because we would apply the old cap to your claim…and on top of it your foundation, which would probably be replaced in 2022 or 2023 if you’d stayed in line, would most likely now get replaced in 2027 or 2028. That choice would be yours but would clearly make no sense.
Protecting the Claim Transfer Process
Effective November 16 at 5:00 PM CFSIC has instituted a tightening of the claim transfer process. Go here to see highlighted changes to CFSIC’s Underwriting and Claims Management Guideline.
Annual Report Infographics
At the recent Annual Meeting of the board of CFSIC, the Superintendent presented the board with some infographics on the status of the program. Click here see this PowerPoint in its entirety. This is a supplement to CFSIC’s Annual Report dated September 29, 2021.
CFSIC’s Audited Financial Is Available
The Board of CFSIC was presented at its recent Annual Meeting with CFSIC’s independently audited financial report. By way of reminder, the independent auditor retained by CFSIC performs two audits: a statutory audit on behalf of the Connecticut Insurance Department and the Board, and an independent state audit provided to state government. CFSIC’s 2021 audit is posted here.
The claims disbursement process was tested independently. The separate cash disbursement process was tested. The audit was independent, vigorous, and complete. No exceptions were noted in the audited financial concerning any aspect of CFSIC’s operations.
By way of reminder, CFSIC’s auditor is the only service provider that does not report directly to the Superintendent and only to the Board of Directors.
Read CFSIC’s Third Annual Report
CFSIC believes in transparency and in data. The only way victims have been helped and can be helped is through an understanding of what we’ve accomplished, and how far we have yet to go. You can read the Superintendent’s 2021 Annual Report to CFSIC’s Board of Directors here.
How We Pay a Claim
This week we are pleased to feature a new white paper written by Kevin Miller on the importance of the visual examination of impaired foundations. This link will take you to this latest installment in this series.
An insurance company has to have a process by which it pays (it adjusts) a claim.
A state insurance commissioner, whether the insurance company in question is a captive or it is not, will not approve an operational plan for that insurance company unless that regulator is satisfied that the factors used to determine how a claim is paid are correct, fair, and based on logic.
This is why CFSIC does not use the results of foundation testing (whether through the extraction of a core sample or by other means) in determining how we actually pay a claim…how we disperse taxpayer funds.
While we believe that the victims of this crisis need to have any information about their foundation that they can get…including the results of foundation testing…the results of foundation testing are not the basis on which CFSIC pays a claim.
There are very good reasons for this.
When CFSIC opened its doors on January 10, 2019, its Board of Directors was under significant public pressure, primarily from some concrete activists, to use the results of foundation testing as the basis on which claims should be paid.
After a lot of consideration, CFSIC’s board rightly rejected that idea. Given CFSIC’s limited financial resources (which are still limited) CFSIC’s Board of Directors chose to create an underwriting and claims payment platform based on the quantifiable severity of impairment…a visual examination by qualified professionals, documented by photographic and measurement evidence, as the basis of prioritizing who would get their claim paid first.
How could we have built a claims management platform off the results of pyrrhotite testing? Let’s ask ourselves a series of questions that will help us get to the answer.
– Does a positive core sample tell you how badly your foundation has deteriorated?
– Do the results of concrete sampling predict when a perfect foundation (with no hint of impairment) might begin to show signs of impairment?
– Does it predict the year or even the decade when that might occur?
– Does it predict with any accuracy, once the impairment begins to show itself, how long it will take before you can no longer close your front door?
– In fact, does it actually predict anything at all with certainty?
The answer is “no.”
Not only that, but we at CFSIC believe that it may be a decade or more before enough data is collected to begin the process of what we call “predictive modeling.” Meanwhile, what do we do with claimants whose foundations are obviously impaired? By that, we mean visibly, quantifiably impaired. Do we tell them that, even though they have the scientifically proven visual outward signs of pyrrhotite, they still need to get a test? What happens months later and what do we tell them when they are facing bankruptcy or possibly even eviction because the structure is unsafe? Do we tell them “…sorry, we can’t help you, even though your basement obviously has a pyrrhotite infection, because our claims management guidelines don’t allow us to pay a claim without a core test”?
CFSIC felt it needed to move quickly, because the victims of this crisis were suffering emotional as well as financial loss.
We felt it was important to prioritize severe, scientifically quantifiable and measurable foundation impairment. We felt that, when a victim can no longer close their front door because of a crumbling foundation, that was far more important than whether or not that foundation had tested positive for pyrrhotite and at what level.
We still believe this to be the case.
We asked those then who wanted us to use a positive pyrrhotite test as the basis of disbursing taxpayer funds just how it would work. If your foundation tested positive for pyrrhotite (in whatever amount) and your foundation was still in perfect condition…did that mean that the taxpayers of CT should tear down that perfect foundation…a foundation that is not failing…and replace it just because that foundation might fail in the future? No one we spoke with inside or outside of state government thought that was a great idea, except for a handful of crumbling foundation activists.
If CFSIC had adopted a positive foundation test as the criterion for using taxpayer funds, how would we have identified who should be first in line? How would we have determined who was placed ahead of whom…especially when some people were unable to close their kitchen cabinet doors anymore?
There is no scientific and no statistical evidence supporting the idea that foundation testing results can predict, with any certainty, when a foundation will fail or even if it will at all. Make no mistake: CFSIC is not anti-testing. Far from it. CFSIC is about the use of hard facts in the disbursement of taxpayer funds.
Once testing data becomes available with statistical validity, CFSIC will not hesitate to use it, and it will not hesitate to build that data quickly and absolutely into our claims management program. Until that time comes, foundation testing is not the basis on which CFSIC pays claims.
CFSIC’s board had a choice: it could adopt a rational visual examination policy to rapidly put people in line who were the victims who were suffering the most…or it could have relied on who got a core test first. Had we done the latter, very few homes would now be remediated in Connecticut.
We believed then, and we believe now, that the visible manifestations of pyrrhotite infection, observed and documented by trained professionals, is the way that a professional insurance company’s claims program needs to operate. We are not going to change that position any time soon.
Ask any one of the 37 victims in Stafford Springs, CT whose foundations we have already replaced in 28 months whether they would have preferred us to use the results of foundation testing versus the results of visual examination in determining how their claims were paid. If you can walk into your basement and, because of your crumbling foundation, you don’t need to turn the lights on because sunlight is pouring in through the cracks…we think the answer is obvious.
CFSIC has never been approached at any time to collaborate with anyone validly collecting the results of testing information. We find that puzzling, as CFSIC is all about collaboration and all about the reasonable sharing of information for the public’s benefit. If we weren’t about sharing data, then our data would not be up on our website. We did experiment briefly with one possible collaboration in this regard…but we stopped when it became clear that it wasn’t going to be a collaboration of equals.
We stand ready to receive and accept valid foundation testing data and to incorporate it into our underwriting system when that data becomes available by way of using it to predictively model exactly when a foundation will fail.
Until then, we’re busy putting lives back together and restoring the tax base in the hard-hit towns of the Northeast Corner of Connecticut.
If you have any questions about the operation of the program, ESIS is your best source of information on your claim, and their phone number and email are shown below.
As you work through the information and application process (understanding that we are in suspension for the taking of new applications), here’s how you can get help:
– Call ESIS (the claim adjuster) at: 844-763-1207
– Email ESIS at: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Email CFSIC at: email@example.com