House passes $12 fee to help crumbling foundation homeowners

HARTFORD — The Connecticut House of Representatives has voted in favor of a $12 annual surcharge on every residential homeowner's policy to financially help hundreds, if not thousands, of homeowners with crumbling foundations.

The bill was approved Saturday, 97-to-42. It now awaits Senate action.

Tim Heim, founder of The Connecticut Coalition against Crumbling Basements says people are finally starting to understand this issue. He’s happy about the legislation passing through the house but feels insurance companies were let off the hook.

“Insurance companies need to be investigated and they also need to be mandated,” he says.

Heim says the fight isn’t over and believes more can be done.

“If people aren't happy with the $12 surcharge then what they need to do is call their state rep and call their senator and demand that they support that insurance companies be mandated to pay for this,” says Heim.

Lawmakers from eastern and central Connecticut gave emotional pleas for the surcharge, which may generate about $10 million annually for a limited 10-year-period.

Republican Rep. Tim Ackert of Coventry spoke about how his neighbors just paid off their mortgage last year, only to have a contractor knock down the structure and build a new home.

Eric George, President of the Insurance Association of Connecticut said, “The insurance industry is very sympathetic to the plight of the homeowners affected by the crumbling foundations problem. Although we oppose measures that increase costs, the proposal that passed the House is far less damaging to Connecticut consumers than other bills that have been proposed on this issue.”

The concrete foundations are failing because of an iron sulfide, pyrrhotite, which has reacted naturally with oxygen and water.

Lawmakers say insurers and the federal government also need to help the homeowners.