Too Many Claims to Handle; 38,000 Claims Await Payment…Roughly 700 Processed Daily


If you’re concerned about the BP spill claims process and how it’s moving along, you won’t be encouraged by the latest statistics from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

The number of claims awaiting payment has ballooned to 38,000, and based on Friday’s numbers, it takes a full day to process 700 claims. And, frankly, the looming claims crisis could be even worse than it appears. That’s because “Claims Paid” looks like a measure of success, but we’re hearing frequently that the payments themselves are creating a mess of their own.

Take a resident who shared his story with one of my colleagues at a community meeting recently: A fishing guide who filed a $36,000 claim, but was offered only $6,000 as an emergency payment. That was bad enough, but then they sent him a check for $1,000. His claims representative told him there must have been a “glitch,” but he hasn’t been able to get through to anyone to resolve the issue.

Here’s the thing…on paper, the fishing guide shows up as a “win.” He’s one (of the lucky ones) who has gotten through the process and received a payment. We have no idea how many others are dealing with similar situations, but we’re hearing more of these stories every day.

Again, the new claims process made big and bold promises: quicker, easier, more generous. Many of those promises have been broken. The math alone is scary: It takes a long time to get to 38,000 at 700 a day, even if nobody else files a claim, and, of course, they will. And if you don’t think that sounds like a long time, you’ve never had to make a mortgage payment or pay rent or buy groceries when your income has dried up completely. A week can be a lifetime, and it can cost you your business or your home or your car.

Dan Murtaugh at the Press-Register has the story on

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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