Journalism in the Public Interest

As Gulf Spill Claims Czar Takes Over, a Checklist of Promised Changes

Kenneth Feinberg takes over as the paymaster for the Gulf oil spill, and has promised new rules to speed the process. ProPublica will be watching.


Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, answers questions from Susan Felio Price and other Houma, La., residents (Getty Images).

Today, independent paymaster Kenneth Feinberg takes the reins from BP in managing damage claims from the Gulf oil spill. He has promised to make sweeping improvements in BP’s system, which has been criticized by applicants as slow, bureaucratic and lacking in transparency.

Our checklist of the fixes that Feinberg has promised describes the changes claimants can expect as Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility opens its doors. We will be checking with applicants who are participating in our BP Claims Project to see if these reforms are put in place.

If you’re planning to file a claim with Feinberg, you can fill out this quick online form to speak with a reporter and help us monitor the claims process. Applicants with pending claims with BP will have to refile with Feinberg’s facility in order to be considered.

Here is our checklist of the key improvements that Feinberg has promised:

One adjuster per claim

Under BP, many claimants have described being switched between multiple adjusters as their claims are processed. These switches, they say, have made it difficult to contact the right person to get an update on the status of their claims. Feinberg has promised that each claim will now be handled by a single adjuster throughout the evaluation process. In addition, Feinberg said that he will create an electronic tracking system so applicants can check the status of their claims online.

Reduce response time for valid claims to two days for individuals, seven days for businesses

Feinberg has pledged that for valid, properly documented claims, checks will be sent out within two days to individuals and within a week to businesses. This timetable would mark a drastic acceleration of a BP process that many claimants say has left them waiting for weeks and even months for checks to arrive. "If you file an eligible claim and document it, we guarantee to process personal claims in 48 hours,” Feinberg said at an Aug. 19 meeting with claimants in Houma, La. “If you're a business and you've been waiting for months in a black hole with BP, you will get an answer within seven days."

Eliminate the backlog of unpaid claims

As of Aug. 19, roughly 108,200 claims – or 70 percent of total claims – had not received payments of any kind. Feinberg has criticized BP for leaving too many claims unsettled, and said he would address these claims promptly upon taking control of the process. “There are too many claims sitting there unpaid,” Feinberg said at an Aug. 10 meeting in Panama City, Fla. Later that day, he pledged that "people who have been waiting, waiting, we will process those claims immediately."

As we’ve reported, BP has deferred decisions to Feinberg on thousands of claims whose eligibility is uncertain. These claims are not necessarily valid, and many may be denied by Feinberg. BP data also shows that 38 percent of claimants have not sent documentation to support their requests, making it impossible for the company to evaluate the claim.

Ease the requirements for getting claims approved

Feinberg has said that his standards for both eligibility and documentation will be more generous than those applied by BP. BP’s process has been guided by the Oil Pollution Act, a 1990 federal law that holds oil companies liable for direct “removal costs and damages resulting from an incident,” while Feinberg has pledged to go beyond the limits of state and federal law to compensate claims. "I will bend over backwards to find eligibility within reason," Feinberg said on Aug. 10. He has also said that he will require “minimal documentation” for claims for emergency payments that will cover up to six months of lost income.

Documents from Feinberg’s protocol for judging claims indicate that geographic location will be a key factor in determining eligibility. The documents indicate that people and businesses adjacent to an oiled shoreline or waterway will get top priority, and that “geographic proximity, nature of industry, and dependence upon injured natural resources” will be among the factors considered in evaluating claims.

The single clearest indication of the progress of the claims systems is the rate that money is being sent out. As of Aug. 19, BP had distributed $389 million in payments during roughly three and a half months of handling claims. At the rate that BP has disbursed money, it would spend about $4 billion, or one-fifth of the amount it has set aside, during the three-year existence of the fund. (The pace of spending is also affected by the fact that the company has been making emergency payments rather than more substantial long-term settlements.)

ProPublica has created a tracker to show how much money is being spent to pay claims – see the “BP Claims Tracker” box in the right sidebar. You can embed the tracker on to your own website.

Интересно, что Вы решили использовать слово “царь”

Propublica you are to be complimented in your efforts.

I am sure that many fisherman will go uncompensated or not fully compensated due to the fact that these good people may have worked under the table and will not have requisite documentation. Tax implications will be a key factor. Our good government, IRS, should wave all tax responsibility of those who have and will in the future loose their lively hoods.

Good people pay taxes. They already waived their tax responsibility.

So i fill out my business claim form online properly after taking a few hours to read and review. I filled out the information related to a business. Once i completed the form and printed out a copy of the form i noticed that my information was completely wrong. I called and they said that most of it was correct but some was laid in wrong. I didn’t make a mistake.
Then the gentlemen proceeded to tell me that we will not have ANY adjuster and that you can speak to anyone at anytime. They are all trained in how to deal with claims, and determine if the documentation is sufficient.
This gentlemen was not able to differentiate between lost profits and lost revenues, and at this time there has been no description of either, nor of the term earning capacity. Revenue is earning capacity for many businesses.
This ‘adjuster’ appeared to support my contention that lost revenues were compensable, so i increased my claim by 3X to cover that loss.
Honestly he has no idea of the depth of my claim or the capacity to understand the intricate details. I asked to speak to someone on the claim team that makes the decisions, but unfortunately that is not possible.
So i will walk into my local facility tomorrow to see if they can understand what it is I have lost.

Brian J. Donovan

Aug. 23, 2010, 4:31 p.m.

This article briefly addresses: (a) how GCCF limits BP’s liability via the systematic postponement,  reduction or denial of claims against BP; (b) how GCCF guarantees BP’s continued long-term operation in the offshore Gulf of Mexico E&P sector; and (c) why GCCF is not necessary to ensure that victims of the BP oil spill are fully compensated for incurred damages.

An update. Feinberg has not uploaded all of the documents previously submitted to BP yet so none of the adjuster can see any documents if u have already supplied them.  They said 24 more hours probably.

I filed my claim this afternoon and also called the 800 number which is open 24 hours per day twice. Each time I got thru promptly and my claim supporting documents are already in my file and my status on line is “under review”. We can only hope!

Wendy Billiot

Aug. 24, 2010, 7:15 a.m.

So, if I jumped through all the hoops my adjuster put out for me satisfactorily, and now waiting for my check, does my claim fall through the cracks?  Meaning, do I have to now assume I won’t get a check from first BP claims company and now start over with Feinberg’s firm?

No you will not be receiving any checks from BP. They were lying to people through August to delay because they didn’t want bad publicity when Feinberg failed to take over August 1st. They just told people anything to delay or generate more documents that they can possibly use against you in court in the future.

File with Feinberg if you want anything.

Unreal. Please remove the last ignorant commenT

Pete Saunders

Aug. 26, 2010, 8:06 a.m.

I was told to fax my docs even thou I already filed a claim with BP SEVERAL MONTHS AGO.  My first page goes thru OK, then their fax stops accepting anything after the first page.  Another mess.

Just got off the phone with another service rep at the number. They still have not received my prior documents. BP, who had them all electronically, is mailing them to the GCCF and they are scanning them. The people answering the phones are not adjusters at all. They can do nothing other than tell you about your claim and if they have documents or not. I guess i have to go to the local office to speak to an adjuster, but they do not have my documents, that i sent in. Unbelievable. 3 days and no action has been made on a large loss claim.
Thanks Ken.

Website for filing claims or checking on a claim is down atm. They said they had my documents in the system but that it wasn’t tied to my file yet, after walking in the door. The adjusters in the local facility said they have no power and that they are only there to see if people have enough documentation, and that all decisions will be made in Ohio by feinbergs team. I called up there and was put to someone’s voicemail. Will keep calling them in Ohio.
Also Feinberg said if you want a lawyer they would offer free lawyers to advise or review your claim. None of the people at the 800 numbers or at the claims facility know how to get hold of those people, even though the ones at the claims facility remember him saying that.
The comedy of errors continues.

Unreal, Be careful while jumping through their hoops. I seem to recall watching a sub-committee hearing where Feinburg was being questioned that an option to enlist a lawyer which might resort to suing brings rules imposed on eventual pay-out. Of course I would take caution accepting one of their lawyers. Perhaps this is OK if one has no intention of bringing a lawsuit. Careful of Foxes in the Hen house.

I believe with all my heart that turning this over to Feinburg is not in the best interest of the small enterprises wishing to recover damages. This act puts the Gov’t as well as BP somewhat off the hook.

I am not hiring a lawyer or losing my rights toward the NPFC in any way. But if Feinberg has lawyers on staff for free legal advice , i am going to pump them for every bit of information i can. But clearly they are unavailable. And nobody is off the hook. Feinberg has no legal ability to do anything regarding OPA. He works for BP and thats it. Every time he violates OPA we should all hold it against BP>

Terri Kleinsmith

Aug. 29, 2010, 9:34 p.m.

It has been 7 days since the GCCF has taken over the claims process. The 48 hr deadline is way past due. Has anyone recieved a check??? I know several people who have claims pending and no one has received one cent or even an explanation for the delay. The people that I have spoken to on the phone at GCCF do not seem to know anything. I was always treated with respect from the BP claims adjusters who had (or seemed to have) empathy. Not so with GCCF. The ones I spoke with remind me of televangelists. PHONY and scripted answers. I had one moron “Darren” suggest that I resend all 60 pages of my documentation becuase it MIGHT take BP 10 days to scan and send these documents to GCCF BUT he didn’t know if that was the delay in my claim or if doing that would speed up the process. He didn’t know if they had the docs or needed more info. He told me I need to take the bull by the horns and be proactive about my claim. Those were his exact words. I should do busy work that probably won’t make an iota of difference so I can feel like I am doing something besides waiting.

OK…I filed with GCCF LAST Monday…followed up with THREE phone calls. On the last one I was told that it will take from on to two to three WEEKS to review my claim…..I asked about the 48 hours for receiving a check ????was told that was AFTER a claim is approved. They keep referring to a payment as an ADVANCE…It is NOT an advance if it is after the fact is it????I haven’t received ANYTHING for August.  Sure would be nice to have some HELP!!!I I am still waiting on the letter they said was mailed to me on MONDAY with my new claim number.  I was told they are not able to send DUPLICATE anything…..

D.Davis, I am dismayed that you are having to suffer additional pain due to the disaster. Since this is known to ProPublica lets hope that this gets more national attention. Have you tried contacting CNN or other news organizations? Having your 60 pages of documentation ready for them might help.

While the onus should not be on you, they have made it so. Therefore raise it to another level.

Keep us posted.

Spoke to the customer service again. NO new changes. I filed my claim in the beginning of May. We received since then $30,000 on losses of about $1.4 million and climbing. Business is shut down. Employees are going into foreclosure with no jobs for the last few months. Our lenders, our partners in business, are filing foreclosure.  I will be at the claims facility at 8am in the morning with dozens of others I am sure. Personal bank account is drained and wondering how I will eat this week or put gas in the car. Had a two very long term viable businesses that have disappeared and nobody at BP cares at all. Everything that Feinberg said has not come true.
The news media no longer cares, and in today’s paper they are finding tons of oil underwater in our bay. They brought up over 3 tons of oil in the last few days just in a few spots. The fishing will be doomed in our area for years to come.
I wonder how long i can sit in the claims facility tomorrow before i get answer as it has been 7 days. I think ill make them call to Ohio to speak to someone. I bet they can’t even speak to Feinberg’s team from the claims offices.
And i love the customer service people who tell you that they are there to help you 24 hours a day. They don’t know anything, even though they claim to have been trained.
The adjusters received 1 hour training, when it was supposed to be 3 days. They all seem to be dejected, and complain about being out of the loop again just like with BP.
I think the claims process is actually worse than the spill itself.

Just got back from the claims center.

Paper reporting 18,900 individual claims made last week, and 1200 have been paid for $6 million. The rest lack sufficient documentation to pay.

Over 8.000 business claims that are being reviewed now.
The claims center can not see the documents submitted, so i am not sure what BP sent. There are supposedly 500 reviewers in Hammond dealing with claims, and the secondary review in Dublin Oh. There is no information on the claims status at the claim center. They are using the same website we do, with a couple other functions. After 7 days, 4 since BP sent my documents to them, there is no letter in the file requesting other documentation or where the file sits.
The claims manager told me their hands are tied, and they have no communication with Hammond or Dublin reviewers.

Unreal, Have you visited your elected officials in Congress? Or perhaps contact the members of the sub-committee that seemed so concern that the claims process go smoothly, especially for those with solid documentation which you have.

I have been to every task force hearing, testified in front of them on more than one occasion, had news paper articles about me, been on cnn, nbc, abc, cbs, wall street journal, i have had my senator and congressmans office, and several top state officials enquire about my file in the past. BP retaliated against me is what they did. Sent a private investigator to me, etc. They promised to pay me then didn’t. They refused to even address my claim.
That is all in the past, and I am hoping that feinbergs office does what he says, but i come from a financial background, and was an underwriter in my own business for several years. Not dealing with the person who makes the decisions, or speaking about the intricate nature of my claim is ridiculous. I am the number one affected business in my area, and the adjusters in the past were frustrated. Eligibility is not the issue. Documentation is not the issue. It was retaliation. I will be suing BP for that after we get funds in.

Please read the info at this link. Sounds very much like what we are now seeing with the GCCF. Looks like KF has a pattern of being less than honest.

KF = Lier

SO SICK OF GCCF giving me the run around…. I WAS PROMISED that my claim would be finished in 24-48 hours! IT HAS BEEN A WEEK and all they said was they had no clue how many claims would come to them when they promised that time slot.  I SAID BULLLLLL they new they would have a crap load of claims Now im gonna lose my home if I cant make my mortgage payment.. I hate this and i wish there was something i could do

Does anyone know what can be done.  I have a business.  My husband has a business.  We are getting no where.  We call,  we find out NOTHING .  We are depending on this money (hoping for money).  We are not looking for a handout.  We work hard (did).  We’re just trying to hold on.  Everyone suffers.  Has anyone looked up the affects BP has had on Nigeria?

Sorry I ment KF = Liar

Sitting on hold with the claims facility. They can not hang up the phone on you if you demand to speak to someone. So far i have reached the head manager, or so she says at the call center in Dublin Oh, Kristie Lewis. Ms. Lewis promised me a call back within 1 hour from someone higher up who can talk to me about my claim and discuss the documents they received from BP. Its been 8 days so we are past their 7 day period.
The call center is frustrated but i suggest if you are not getting anywhere, just call up and speak to a supervisor and demand to speak to a direct person about your file who can answer all your questions, and refuse to hang up until they do so. They are not permitted to hang up on you if you are pleasant.
Getting irate with the call center people does not help and gives them an excuse to put you off.
Be as nice as possible and lets see what happens today.

my claim has been under review for 3 days and still cant an answer as to where we are at the 1800 number is a waste the people have no idea whats up all they seem to be there for is to get a check and while the people who need a check are not getting one I reall doubt that any one has gotten a check

I also filed under the new system last Monday, the 23rd for one of two rental properties I own on the Gulf Coast in Florida.  I have an LLC with a fed ID #, so filed it as a business.  So far nothing, the website says the claim is under review.  I called the 800# and was told they could tell me nothing more.  I asked to speak to a supervisor, who was able to look up my claim.  She said it appeared all the required info was there, and to just wait and keep checking the website.  I asked about the 7 day payment promise and was told that it is taking longer than that, and she started on how many claims they had received, blah, blah.  Of course, I could have told them that, why weren’t they ready for this?  And when I asked if I could speak to an adjuster I was told no, that there would never be contact with an adjuster.  I had good luck with the BP adjuster I had who was very responsive, called me proactively and even sent checks.  I’m upset and angry that this has turned into such a mess.  And I live in the Northeast, so can’t walk into a claims office.  Can Anderson do a follow-up and expose on this?

ok day 4 of under review still the same rhetoric , oh well at least we can call the 1800 # and talk to the people about anything and theyll listen ,Hey wait a minute that would cost a 100 bucks an hour to go to a therapist wow what a deal !

This is crazy i had an approved claim with bp it literally took them 1 hour to write me a check.
and whats messed up is it has taken almost 2 weeks to pay 10% of the claims that means it might take them 20 weeks to get to me. I own a business and if this does not pan out soon. i will have to let around 5 people go and if i have to do that I’m gonna have them file claims.

I like everyone eles filed my clam on Monday the 23rd. And still three weeks later I have not one dime. I started calling everyday since the 28th sometime many times a day. I am always told something differnt. But I the end ir is all the same they can’t tell u anything. I called to taday and asked to speck with somebody anybody that could telle something bout my clam. I was told thatvthwre is nobody so I said I would wit on hold till some could talk to me. I was then told that I could not do that that! So I told the dumb as that I was speaking with that she would have to hang up on me, and that unwound keek calling back then told me that if I dud that they would put my clam in hold for herasment of goverment employee! I am out raged that this is going on and nobody seems to care. This hole this is a bunch if bullshit! I have not been paid in 2 and a half months. Some if the peple at my job has but they only got like 10 percent of what they have lost, and one of them was paid twice on two differnt clam numbers. That just gose to show how well this is all going. I am sorry die the long post just don’t know what Eles to do!!!

Rach,  Your spelling and grammar can not possibly be that horrendous. Is this a joke? Are we now having people post in an attempt to discredit the website and its responders?
  If this is not a joke could you please take your time and attend to your discourse in a more careful manner? And foul language is not necessary, as we all want to swear up and down over this issue.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

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The BP oil disaster in the Gulf has had untold health, economic and environmental effects.

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