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AP: Blacks Get Less Katrina Insurance Money

From the racists at the DNC's Associated Press:

A couple holds hands as they walk down the street in the predominantly black Ninth Ward section of New Orleans, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006. Though poor and minority neighborhoods suffered the brunt of Katrina’s fury, residents living in white neighborhoods have been three times as likely as homeowners in black neighborhoods to seek state help in resolving insurance disputes, according to an Associated Press computer analysis.

Whites appealed Katrina insurance more

Tue, Oct. 24, 2006
RUKMINI CALLIMACHI and FRANK BASS

NEW ORLEANS – Though poor and minority neighborhoods suffered the brunt of Katrina's fury, residents living in white neighborhoods have been three times as likely as homeowners in black neighborhoods to seek state help in resolving insurance disputes, according to an Associated Press computer analysis.

The analysis of Louisiana's insurance complaints settled in the first year after Katrina highlights a cold, hard truth exposed by Katrina's winds and waters: People of color and modest means, who often need the most help after a major disaster, are disconnected from the government institutions that can provide it, or distrustful of those in power.

The Littles and the Kitchens watched helplessly as Hurricane Katrina battered their homes. Both families waited patiently for an insurance adjuster to settle their losses. And both were sorely disappointed with the outcome. Then, their paths diverged.

Richard and Cindy Little, a white couple living in a predominantly white neighborhood, filed a complaint with the Louisiana Department of Insurance. Eventually, they won full reimbursement for their repairs.

Doretha and Roy Kitchens, a black couple living in New Orleans' overwhelmingly black Lower Ninth Ward, simply gave up and took what their insurer gave them. They didn't know they could appeal to the state.

"The blacks didn't complain 'cause they got tired," said Doretha Kitchens, 58, who recalls numerous phone calls to her insurer that often ended with her being put on hold. Ultimately, she accepted her insurer's offer of about $34,000 for damages that actually total more than $120,000.

The insurance industry and state regulators say they made special efforts – even in the midst of Katrina's chaos – to reach out to poor and minority neighborhoods to inform them of options.

But their ad appeals on local radio did little to inform the thousands of mostly black residents who were displaced to Houston. And giving a toll free number for help didn't help poor minorities who stayed behind with no telephone or cell service. Officials acknowledge victims slipped through the cracks…

In Louisiana, more than 8,000 residents have filed Katrina-related complaints with the state insurance office. Using open records law, AP obtained the files of more than 3,000 complaints that have already been settled and analyzed the outcomes by the demographics of the victims' current zip code neighborhood.

Nearly 75 percent of the settled cases were filed by residents currently living in predominantly white neighborhoods. Just 25 percent were filed by households in majority-black zip codes, the analysis found.

The analysis also suggests income was a factor. The average resident who sought state help lives in a neighborhood with a median household income of $39,709, compared with the statewide median of $32,566 in the 2000 Census.

AP analyzed 3,118 complaints filed by homeowners still living in Louisiana. The state's data did not identify whether the addresses on complaints were the same locations as the damaged homes. The state also refused to release any information on approximately 5,000 complaints still under review.

The findings surprise few on the front lines of a disaster that has reawakened issues of racial equality.

Donelon, the insurance commissioner, said his department made an extra effort to reach as many people as possible and let them know the agency was willing to press their case with insurers.

State workers crisscrossed the state, using mobile complaint centers, user-friendly Web sites and advertisements on television and radio. When complaints were received, state insurance officials determined whether they had merit, and lobbied insurance companies for more money for homeowners when warranted.

That message, however, never reached the water-stained stoop of Doretha Kitchens' house, which was enveloped in a 9-foot wave of muddy water when the Lower Ninth Ward's aging levees broke. For months, she had no access to computer, radio or TV and couldn't hear the state agency's messages.

Kitchens also didn't know she could appeal Allstate Corp.'s settlement offer to the state, but doubts it would have changed anything. Her husband, she said, simply lost faith that anyone would help.

"My husband didn't want to be bothered. I asked him, 'Why don't we sue the insurance company?' He said, 'They ain't gonna do nothing no way.' White just decided they was gonna go file. Black, we just gave up easier."

The Kitchens didn't have flood insurance but their dispute with the insurer was over damage in their attic, where winds ripped off the roof…

A couple walk their dogs in Slidell, La., Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006, a predominantly white bedroom community north of New Orleans. Though poor and minority neighborhoods suffered the brunt of Katrina’s fury, residents living in white neighborhoods have been three times as likely as homeowners in black neighborhoods to seek state help in resolving insurance disputes, according to an Associated Press computer analysis.

Couldn't it simply be that blacks didn't have as much insurance as whites? And therefore had less of a basis for claims?

In fact, the article’s "analysis" is based on household incomes rather than race. Don’t people with more income live in better houses and tend to purchase more insurance?

All of this claptrap is just an excuse for the AP to trot out their constant message that no matter what blacks suffer more — and are as helpless as children.

Of course the real reason for this contrived article is to remind us of  their already established lies about the racism Katrina revealed, and to whip up some more racial animosity in time for the mid-term elections.

The AP must always do their masters’ bidding. But especially in the next two weeks.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, October 24th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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