Major underwriter seeds Connecticut foundations repair fund

Sources: The Travelers Companies Inc., Hartford, Conn.; CP staff

A $5 million Travelers Cos. fund will assist Connecticut customers whose homes exhibit concrete deterioration associated with expansion attributed to pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide-bearing compound identified in aggregate from a Willington, Conn. quarry. The voluntary Travelers Benefit Program offers up to $25,000 and $10,000, respectively, to current and past policyholders whose repair costs exceed awards from the recently launched Connecticut Foundations Solutions Indemnity Company (CFSIC). 

“Travelers has taken the lead in helping its customers with the financial burden that comes with making the significant repairs associated with pyrrhotite-related damage,” says Connecticut Department of Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade. “We appreciate the company’s partnership in working to identify an outcome for Connecticut homeowners and developing a model for other insurance carriers to follow.”

The state will fund CFSIC at up to $20 million annually through 2022, with individual homeowner awards likely capped at $175,000. The captive insurance program and Travelers Benefit have emerged from state agency investigations, beginning in 2015, on failing residential concrete foundations in more than 35 northeast Connecticut communities. All foundations appear to have been supplied by J.J. Mottes Co., a former ready mixed producer sourcing aggregate from a sister operation, Becker’s Quarry, whose reserves are part of a pyrrohotite-laden deposit. Deterioration has been observed on concrete delivered from 1983–2010. 

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is among agencies probing widespread residential foundation failure. It enlisted University of Connecticut Associate Professor Kay Wille, who after an eight-month investigation of foundation concrete and Becker’s Quarry samples, offered a theory on pyrrhotite in a concrete matrix: The compound oxidizes when exposed to water plus oxygen or ferric ions, spurring formation of an expansive mineral product such as ferihydrite plus release of sulfates. The latter react with aluminum-bearing portland cement phases, resulting in the formation of expansive and deleterious minerals such as ettringite. Carbon from aggregates’ calcite or environmental carbon dioxide can form another deleterious compound, thaumasite.