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Tornado hit my house on 4/27/2011. I was home when it happened. I was just enjoying my day, I don't watch TV and was unaware of the rest of the southern part of the country being destroyed. But is thundered pretty bad, so I went to the basement, with my 2 cats and my 2 dogs. It began to storm very badly. I heard the sounds of hail pounding the side of my house. It sounds like baseball size hail. I had not brought a flash light down there with me, so it was extremely dark. The wind started howling, the hail was still pounding and the rain was pouring. There are only 2 overhead garage doors in the basement, so I was unable to see outside. As the wind and the storm continued, I sat in darkness. Then all of a sudden, I could see the right rear side of my house being pulled up and I could glimpse outside, the lightning and trees were swirling, and the 500 gallon propane tank was floating. A second later the overhead garage door blew open and, I could see the lightning and the sto! rm, I ran to the back area of the basement where there is a bathroom, and it is very deep in the ground. The house foundation was dug down to pour the basement walls. Although I was so scared, I still had no idea, how bad the tornado was.

My husband had been working late that night and the storm occurred at about 9:30, I waited for what seemed an eternity after the winds and sounds stopped. I went upstairs afraid that there would not be an upstairs. But, it looked like a war zone. There were tree limbs, and leaves that had broken some of the windows, and things were all blown around. There was a lot of damage. I think I was in shock and still may be in shock after a year and a half.

I have fought my Insurance Company on my claim, pretty much since day 1. They hired and IA (Independent Adjuster) after I reported to my agent, a rep from my Ins Company, called and said that the IA would be out, wait for his call. I did, he called and said that he would be there the following morning. The tornado was Wed he was to have came on Friday. He didn't show, at around 2, I called him. He was not coming that day, but had failed to inform me. He said he would be there Sat, I asked him if he could refer a contractor to cover my roof and make temporary repairs. He did and I called the Contractor. he arrived at pretty much the same time on Sat as the IA. He had 2 Hispanic men with them. I spoke to him for a minute. His guys starting to get up on the roof. I didn't realize it at the time, but later learned that they were not comfortable with the roof, and appeared to be afraid of heights. They had no ropes or safety equipment. It took several hours, and the Contractor to! ld me that he had to go somewhere and would be back soon. The 2 men, were still up there, and didn't seem to be getting anywhere. The didn't have any water and I was feeding my family and the volunteers, and the crew that was clearing the road. So, I gave them water and lunch. The tarps blew off before the next morning. This goes on and on, the IA missed another appointment that I had set up with another contractor that I had called to come out to repair the tarps that had blown off, since the previous contractors men had not nailed it down. So, a meeting is set with the IA and the new contractor. The IA is a no show again. There had also been an Engineer here because there were nail pops all around inside and the house had raised up during the storm. The Engineer was sent by the Insurer. He (the Engineer) didn't talk to me, he talked to my neighbor who had expressed interest in doing the repairs.

Anyway, to shorten the story. The IA did not write a scope that would make the repairs. He wrote approx $ 45,000, the repairs came to approx $ 79,000, not counting all of the out of pocket expenses, and the headaches. They would not consider my estimates and the IA would not attempt yo resolve the estimate amounts. I hired my own Engineer, he did a very detailed inspection, took lots of photos, the Engineer the Insurer used didn't take pictures, or if he did he didn't take many. My Engineer was in agreement, the house had more damage than what the IA had written, So I requested a meeting with the Insurer, their IA, and their Engineer. Along with my contractor, my engineer and some of my family members. They arrived, we allowed them full run of the home and allowed them to inspect and the manager of the Insurance Company had the estimate that had been written. Their Engineer said he was not convinced that the house had shifted, and said the hardiplank siding had previous dam! age. We all told him no it had been fine. They told me that they had agreed costs to repair with several contractors. Some of which I had chosen. The IA even lied that he had an agreed cost to repair with 1 contractor that confirmed in writing that he had not spoken, nor agreed, nor seen or sent them anything.

Fast Forward, we go to appraisal. My contractor was good at building, but not good at writing estimates detailed as needed by the Insurance Company. He had written an estimate that the Appraisal team would not accept. So, my appraiser did whatever he did and they eventually resolved my claim for around $ 78,000.00. which would have been fine, but I had asked my contractor to provide the full amount spent and what he would need to conclude. He sent me an amount of $ 41,000.00. I thought great we will be okay. That amount was on top of what he had already billed, which was 51,000.00. He didnt provide until the appraisal panel had completed their conclusion. The repair amount and the contractor amount was more than the award. And I have expenses over and above the amount awarded that will have to be paid to the Umpire and my Appraiser. The Umpire demanded his payment immediately after we had already paid him a retainer. So, he told me he was going out of town and would hold a c! heck, which he did not he cashed and now it has bounced.

The Insurer has not paid the appraisal amounts that was awarded, they have 60 days. I sent them a time dated request for Fair Rental Value for 10 months at $ 16,500.00, deadline for 9/3/12. They did not pay it as of 9/4/12. I sent and e-mail to the claim manager he said give him to the end of the week,

I am so over all of this, I lost my job from the stress, I have no money, we have no food. I did have a nice house and I had valid Insurance. I have an attornet, but I dont have any money, and all the money that has been paid out above the damages, I dont want to add another bill that may or may not arise.

I sure would like for the Insurance Company to actually understand what I am going through and pay me. I would like to erase that horrible day. I sure would like to have my case documented so other people can see what happens in the wake of the devastation, even when you think you have Insurance and you assume that you don't have to worry because you have insurance. They should know that if you do have a claim and do have insurance, you will not come out ahead, nor break even.

I have no idea how this will end, I am so tired, and so stressed and so finished. I am crying and it does not help. So another day.

I'm lucky to still have DSL, but it will be turned off soon.

Posted 9/5/2012

Headaches Over Homeowners Insurance Loom for Irene Victims

Read 8/30/2011 article by QUENTIN FOTTRELL, WSJ

Hurricane Irene isn't yet behind us. Up next: some 100,000 insurance claims covering as much as $4 billion in damages. But as homeowners try to rebuild and recover, they may find a longer, more complicated—and more costly—claims process.

In recent years, insurance companies have started to pass more of the costs of natural disasters to policyholders.

Many insurers now require mandatory hurricane deductibles in coastal areas; some have raised those deductibles from 1% or 2% to as high as 5% of a home's value.

 "Families will have to dig deeper into their pockets," says J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America.

Meanwhile, many homeowners are discovering that even with these deductibles, their policies may not cover all the damage caused by a hurricane or tropical storm.

These issues can make an already difficult situation tougher. Following Hurricane Katrina, a far more devastating storm than Irene, many homeowners complained about waiting months for their claims to be processed, according to the non-profit group Americans for Insurance Reform.

Slowing down the process was disagreement over what was wind damage and what was water damage, says Susan Voss, vice-president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Standard homeowners insurance typically covers damage from wind but not water; in the aftermath of a hurricane, it can be hard to tell which is which. And in some ways, the insurance industry may be less prepared today: Insurance companies have shed 145,000 jobs since 2006, according to a 2011 survey by GreatInsuranceJobs.com.

Still, insurance companies say they're ready, with additional staff sent to crisis areas and upgraded customer-service technology. David Hilgen, a spokesman for Chubb Personal Insurance, a unit of Chubb Corp., says most claims should take "a matter of weeks" or less.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. says it has 1,700 agents and customer-service reps available if necessary. Travelers Cos. has established mobile claims offices along the East Coast to speed up the process, according to a company spokesman.

Some complications also arise from people not fully understanding the limits of their coverage. For instance, if strong winds tear through the roof of a house and lead to water damage, consumers without additional flood insurance will have to argue that it was wind—not subsequent flooding—that led to the damage. Another common mistake: Policy holders that have not reported home improvements to their insurance company may be underinsured.

For those who have suffered damage, experts recommend filing early and documenting everything. Mr. Hunter suggests keeping receipts for emergency repairs and hotel expenses if your house is uninhabitable.

He also says it pays to get a repair estimate from a trusted contractor to use as a guide in talking with the adjuster.

If the claim is denied or seems low, ask to see the language in your policy that served as the basis for denying your claim or offering so little, says Mr. Hunter: Those reasons should be in plain, comprehensible language.

If you feel you're being treated unfairly, appeal to senior staff at the insurance company, your state regulator or, if all else fails, a lawyer, says Ms. Voss.

Posted 8/31/2011

Page last updated 9/5/2012