PCA: what you need to know

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- As Hurricane Irma approaches, the 20th Fighter Wing Judge Advocate would like to remind service members of their legal rights under the Personnel Claims Act (PCA).

The PCA is a limited substitute for hazard insurance designed to relieve hardships that arise when military personnel or federal employees are exposed to unusual risks of loss or damages because of their service.

The Air Force Claims Service Center (AFCSC), stood up in 2006 to handle claims under sections 3701 and 3721 of the PCA 31 U.S. Code, to include claims for personal property damage in privatized housing, has been instrumental in crafting personnel claims policy in this area, said J.D. Reese, AFCSC chief. Some of these claims are the results from damage caused by power outages, hail, wind, tornados, hurricanes, lighting strikes, fire, theft, vandalism and natural disasters.

If a loss occurs in privatized housing due to an unusual occurrence, such as a severe weather event, fire or flood, and the Airman does not have renter’s insurance coverage, an Airman may file a claim under the PCA.

The Air Force may pay an Airman’s claim for damaged or destroyed personal property up to $40,000, provided the loss was incident to service and occurred at the residences that were assigned or provided by the government.

Reese said the Defense Department issued a policy in 2005 stating that, for purposes of the PCA, privatized housing "shall be considered provided in kind ... if it is located within the perimeter of a military installation.” To provide as much protection for Air Force members as possible, the Air Force interprets this language broadly and considers privatized housing to be within the perimeter of an installation if it is located within the fence line of an installation or located outside of the fence line of an installation, as long as the privatized housing resides on federal land in which the Air Force has an interest. This includes any federal land used to support an Air Force privatized housing project.

Claimants have a personal responsibility to protect themselves from loss or damage to their personal property. Coverage under the PCA only applies to a claimant’s personal property and does not provide liability coverage. In addition, prior to filing a claim under the PCA, a claimant must exhaust any available private insurance.

It is important for Airmen to understand the requirements and coverage, if any, under their lease, and the importance of personal insurance.

For more information, Please contact the AFCSC at DSN 986-8044 or 1-877-754-1212, or via email at AFCSC.JA@us.af.mil. To file a claim please go to the following website: https://claims.jag.af.mil.