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Insurance issues continue to boil

It was a night of updates at the Village of Hammond Public Works Committee meeting on Monday night.

First on the agenda was an update on the flooding issues from the 2008 street project. A water main was accidentally struck and flowing water damaged numerous homes.

Jane Haagsman, a field claims representative from Albrightson's Excavating insurance company Secura, was on hand to explain her company's position. An employee of Albrightson's accidentally broke the line. She said there are three homeowners left to settle with them.

She explained that during a liability situation, the costs for cleaning up the raw sewage and drying the home out are completely covered. Rebuilding and replacing costs are covered at current cash value.

Haagsman gave the committee this example: if you bought a watch for $100 five years ago, now the insurance company would pay $50 due to depreciation and age.

"I understand the frustration. I understand the loss," Haagsman told the committee and audience.

She admitted that the situation wasn't handled properly by previous representatives from Secura. "I want to get everyone back on life," she assured. "We've got to move forward."

However, three homeowners present told the committee they still aren't satisfied with the situation.

Gene Perry was the first to speak up. He works from home and had significant damage to his home office, including several computers, he said. Now, he said he's struggling to get repayment for his loss of income and other expenses from Secura.

"No, I am not satisfied. Period," Perry said.

Haagsman replied to Perry that he needed to submit proper documentation before those claims could move forward.

Robin Johnson also expressed her discontent. She and her husband, Dale, are losing $9,000 due to an accident that wasn't their fault, she said.

"We work, we pay our taxes. Why do we get the shaft?" she questioned. "Why are we being punished for what we didn't do?"

Haagsman tried to ease the situation by reminding the homeowners that they'd have brand-new basements once everything was settled.

The homeowners present were not swayed.

"We didn't want a new basement," Robin Johnson fired back.

Steve Peterson, chair of the Public Works Committee, urged the homeowners to keep working with Haagsman to settle their claims.

"You have to remember it was an accident," Peterson said.

Village Attorney Tim Scott also recommended that homeowners work their claim with Secura. If more problems arise, then they should approach the committee again, he said.

The committee would not say if they would be willing to help cover some of the costs that homeowners incurred from the water main break.

In other news:

• The certified survey map of Mark Maple's property has been completed, said Village Engineer Greg Adams. Maple owns a house on blocks at the corner of Fithian and Ridgeway streets. Several attempts to raze the house have failed. The next step is to write a legal description of the property. Currently, Maple is attempting to rezone the property from commercial to residential.