The Deepwater Horizon Settlement Program is nearing the 12-month countdown point, and has paid out $1.85 billion in funds to 33,000 claimants to date. Nearly 150,000 claims have been received by the program thus far. Though BP is attempting to renegotiate the terms of the Program through a recent lawsuit filing, a valid claim is still a valid claim, and all businesses should be evaluated.
Steve Davidson, CPA, CFE currently works as a Claims Manager for Economic Recovery Group, and was formerly employed by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the original program established to process BP claims. He is responsible for the oversight and submission of all claims through ERG. He is not only well versed and knowledgeable in the current process, but has witnessed the process evolve from the start.
Q: How was the GCCF different from the new Program?
A: The biggest difference was that each claim was open to more subjective judgment on the behalf of individual claim reviewers, whereas the new Program is much more formula-driven according to agreement by all parties involved in the settlement. In addition, policies and methodologies were changed several times at the GCCF; the new Program, with its more defined guidelines, does not lend itself to that kind of flexibility.
Q: What is the most challenging part about submitting a claim? Would you recommend a claimant submit their own documents?
A: Submitting a valid, accurately-prepared claim with all necessary documentation can be challenging. Missing or incomplete documents can cause lengthy delays. We do not recommend that claimants submit their own claims/documents. For starters, while the calculation formulas are objective, they are also very complicated. In addition, the process may include a negotiation phase, and even an appeal phase. Our attorneys and financial staff are well-prepared to work with the Program to negotiate the best possible settlement.
Q: What does the timeline look like? How long does it take from start to finish?
A: Once we receive all the requisite documents, we can actually process and submit a claim within a week or two.
Q: What types of businesses, or what industries, are currently qualifying for claims?
A: We have clients in virtually every industry that qualifies, with some of the more prevalent being restaurants, construction companies and contractors, law and medical practices, recreation, retail, and manufacturing. Only a handful of industries (gaming, banking, insurance, funds/trusts, defense contractors, and real estate developers) are excluded by the agreement.