Jan. 11--In July of last year, the JournalTimes learned that 33 businesses and individuals filed insurance claims with the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) and Collins & Company, which are the City of Olive Hill's insurance providers, alleging liability for the severity of last year's flood and for the magnitude of damage sustained to homes and businesses.
The week before Christmas, letters of denial were received by some of the claimants, with more to follow over the next few weeks.
Only one claim has been found to be legitimate, that of business owner Donnie Lykins. He was paid $159,800 for damages he sustained to his Railroad Street business after an eight-month investigation by the KLC.
In part three of an ongoing series, the Journal-Times addresses the denied claims.
Tyler's Pizza, Flowers by Jeanie, Sturgill Music, Keeton Barber Shop, American Legion Post 138, Randy Steele, J and R Rental, Kevin Jordan, Raybourn Auto Parts, Walkers Resturant, Carhart's, Sally's, the Wesleyan Church, H & R Block, Gene Knipp, Terry Thompson, Phillip Carter, Bessie Bond, Linda and Burl Hanshaw, Jewell Brown Estate, Paul Lewis Rentals, Sam Lowe, Johnny Napier, Gayle Cline, Jim Short, Stephens Farm Supply, Flashback Framing, Holbrook Computer, Patrick Flannery- private law firm, Donny Owens, Larry Steagall, Fox Law Office and Tim Johnson all filed claims for undisclosed amounts of money, and every claim was denied.
Ned Wertz, KLC's claims and underwriting director, said that investigations were conducted and the KLC ruled in the way it found to be fair.
"The letters of denying liability were based upon the investigation to date and the opinion is that Olive Hill is not liable for the damages that these individuals incurred," said Wertz.
When asked about the Lykins' claim that had been paid, Wertz said each case is different, so rulings can be different, too.
"Circumstances can be drastically different with each case, things such as location and proximity to the creek play a major part in these rulings," said Wertz. "While there has been a payment on one claim, that does not mean another person's claim is founded."
Wertz said he predicts this might not be a popular decision within the community.
"Reasonable people can disagree with this and they do have the ability to bring civil action," said Wertz.
The Journal-Times talked to both attorneys who filed claims, Patrick Flannery and Mike Fox.
"I did receive a letter of denial and will likely be representing others who had claims and received letters of denial. The only option beyond this for myself or any other claimant is to file suit," said Flannery. "I would not have filed if I did not feel I had a valid claim, and the bottom line is that one claim has been paid out ... on one hand I am surprised to be denied, on the other, not at all."
Fox said he had not yet received a letter but had been in touch with the KLC on behalf of some of the claimants that he represents.
"It seems in bad faith that multiple claims on a single insurance policy are being picked and chosen as valid," said Fox.
While no official complaints have been filed in the court system regarding the issue, it is highly likely that there could be in the near future.
The Journal-Times will continue reporting on the flood insurance claims in Olive Hill.
Shayla Menville can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 286-4201.
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