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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Alert for Gulf Coast Vacation Homeowners: November 23 Deadline for Filing Emergency Advance Payment Claims



Austin, TX (October 2010)—If you're a vacation homeowner with property on the Gulf Coast, November 23 is D-Day. (The D is for "Deadline.") Yes, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving is the last day you can file with the new Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) for an Emergency Advance Payment on losses you've experienced as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

"According to GCCF representatives and the website itself, if you don't meet the November 23 deadline, you can still file for a claim—it just will not be paid as expediently as an emergency claim, and you have up to three years to do so," says Christine Karpinski, director of Owner Community forHomeAway®—the world's leading online vacation rental marketplace— and author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment (Kinney Pollack Press, 2007, ISBN: 0-9748249-9-2, $26.00). "I learned this during conversations I've had and research I've done regarding my own personal claims and those of other homeowners."

The GCCF, under the direction of Kenneth Feinberg, is working to allocate a lump sum settlement for each claimant, she explains. Any Emergency Advance Payment you may receive will ultimately be deducted from that allocated sum. And while there appears to be no definitive information on how final claim amounts will be determined, Karpinski advises vacation property owners to file for the emergency payment. 

"If you let the deadline pass, you may spend a long time waiting for compensation," she asserts. "I say that based on that fact that despite all the conversations I've had, despite reading the GCCF website and compiling pages of claims documentation, no one seems to be able to cite a date by which homeowners will receive final payment. No one's offering guarantees of any sort."

For details on the claim process, visit www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com. Additional information and perspectives from second homeowners are available on the HomeAway Gulf Coast Response Centerat www.oilspillhomeaway.ning.com. The site provides news, expert advice, and a popular forum whereGulf Coast vacation homeowners can connect with each other for mutual learning and support.

Karpinski offers the following insights:

 

· November 23 is your last chance for emergency payment. If you miss this deadline, there's a chance you'll have to wait a long time to get paid. The deadline to file a final claim is August 23, 2013. Maybe it won't actually be that long before you receive payment, but it's best to err on the side of caution, says Karpinski. "I like to act on the assumption that the early bird gets the worm," she notes. "When you're dealing with money, particularly money that's coming from a finite source, it's always best to be first in line."

 

· Don't be put off by the "E" word. You don't necessarily have to be facing an emergency in the most extreme meaning of the word. According to GCCF, you have to show you're an individual or business "experiencing financial hardship resulting from damages incurred by the spill."(http://www.GulfCoastClaimsFacility.com/faq#Q5)

  

· Can't predict your future losses? Don't worry; you'll have the chance to settle up later. With the Emergency Advance Payment you can file for six months of losses. If you're filing in mid-October for, say, the months of August 2010 - January 2011, you can't know for sure what your losses will be for the entire month of October and beyond. What you do is estimate to the best of your ability now—and if you estimate incorrectly, it will be settled when your lump sum claim is paid.

 

As the GCCF website phrases it, "Any Emergency Advance Payments you receive will be deducted from your Final Payment. If you do not receive a Final Payment from the GCCF, the total Emergency Advance Payments you receive will be deducted from a payment you receive in another legal action associated with the Spill." (http://www.gulfcoastclaimsfacility.com/Instructions_GCCF_ClaimForm.pdf)

 

"In other words, let's say you're filing a claim for $5,000 a month for the next six months," explains Karpinski. "You would file for an Emergency Advance Payment of $30,000. But let's say that after you file, business suddenly picks up and in the end you lose only $20,000. Well, once your lump sum claim is finally paid a couple of years from now, that extra $10,000 you received would be deducted from your final payment."

 

· Remember, this is part one of the claims process. Speak to your attorney before filing your FINAL claim. Once you've made your attempt to collect the Emergency Advance Payment, do your homework before you file your final claim. (Remember, you have almost three years to do so.)

 

"I spoke with Peter Taaffe, the Buzbee Law Firm attorney who provides legal commentary on HomeAway's oil spill website, and he urges caution," says Karpinski. "Please, consult your attorney before you file the final claimEvery claim and every owner's circumstances are different. It is important to make sure your final claim—and a possible final resolution of all of your claims—is the right thing to do and represents the right amount."

 

"Everyone must make his or her own decision on the best way to proceed—in terms of the Emergency Advance Payment and also in terms of filing a final claim," she adds. "It's a complicated issue with lots of variables. Just make sure to educate yourself at every step of the way so you'll be able to make an informed decision."

Updated 10-12-2010

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