City, county face lawsuit by Farmers Insurance for April 2013 fl - FOX 32 News Chicago

City, county face lawsuit by Farmers Insurance for April 2013 flooding

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A year ago this week, large portions of Cook County were under water. Roads were closed, neighborhoods evacuated, and basements flooded. The damage was in the millions. And now, in a lawsuit, the Illinois Farmers Insurance Company claims that it ought to be reimbursed by municipalities all over Cook County for the claims it paid to its customers. Farmers says that because of climate change, heavy downpours are occurring more often, and municipalities know it.

Law Professor Dan Tarlock says he's not surprised that the insurance company is using climate change to cut its losses. He says the insurance industry takes climate change seriously because it pays for the damages.

“I think the big American insurance companies are on board for the obvious reason that they see more frequent damage events, storms, etcetera,” Tarlock says.

Farmers also claims that when local municipalities adopted the "Chicago climate action" plan several years ago, they were officially admitting that flooding was likely to occur, yet they did little to reduce the damage.

Farmers says better storm water controls should have been in place last April.

Harriet Festing, who researched five years of insurance claims here, says a big part of the problem is that cities are mostly concrete and grass lawns.

“It’s the way we're designing cities,” Festing explains. “Really, the rain falls and it has nowhere to people's basements are just acting as nice storage, but it's very inconvenient for the property owner.”

City and county officials said they haven't seen the lawsuit, so they declined comment.

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