Monday, April 03, 2017

Property Insurer Stiffs Homeowner On Claim For Home's Snowstorm Damages, Ignores Court Judgments In Victim's Favor, Then Jacks Up Premium From $1,300 To $10K/Year; Family Now Left Facing Foreclosure

In Alto, Michigan, WXMI-TV Channel 17 reports:
  • Seth and Haley Budrew say Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Company has made their lives extremely difficult over the past three years.

    In February 2014, a snowstorm caused their two-car attached garage to collapse, causing structural damage to the rest of the property, the Budrews said. That includes cracks in the ceilings and gaps in the walls. They said it hired the insurance company's "preferred contractor," who may have caused more damage to the structure.

    The Budrews said they got an estimate for repairs from a restoration company. "It's a 170-something thousand dollars to fix it," Seth said.

    Despite paying on their homeowner's insurance policy, the Budrews said Frankenmuth Insurance denies and refuses to pay their claim.

    "All I want is my house to be fixed, [and] my kids to have a secure place to live," Seth said.

    But after four months and hiring an attorney, the couple said Frankenmuth shelled out a fraction of the estimated cost for repairs, about $46,500 dollars.

    For years, the Budrews have been in and out of court fighting Frankenmuth to get their entire claim paid. They said they won judgments for smaller amounts but Frankenmuth has refused to pay and has filed appeals.The Budrews say that in August 2015, an independent panel recommended a settlement of $150,000.

    "They never responded," Seth said. "They basically let it expire. We accepted [the decision]. They rejected it."

    They said Frankenmuth also cut off temporary relocation assistance, as the family awaited repairs to their foundation.

    "We had to have a court order for them to not drop us,"​ Haley said.

    "Our insurance company then turned around and jacked our premiums to $10,421 for one year," Seth recalled. That's up from $1,300 per year.

    The couple said they tried switching providers, but "we can't get another insurance company. Our house is in such disrepair," Haley said.

    "I called 10 different agents. Every single one of them said, 'No insurance company is going to cover you because of the liability of the damage,'" Seth explained.

    While contesting the premium hike, the couple said the state insurance commission did nothing. "They agreed with Frankenmuth," Haley said.

    "They didn't do anything," Seth added. "They're like, 'Oh, well yeah. Their risk is higher.' I'm like, yeah, their risk is higher because they won't pay to fix the house."

    With four young mouths to feed and Frankenmuth raising their premiums, the family said they're financially strapped and have fallen behind with the bank.

    "So now they're in the process of... they're going to foreclose on us," Seth said, adding, "I purchased insurance for my home so that I wouldn't have to go through this, and the insurance company did not fulfill their end of the bargain."

    "Friends don't let friends buy Frankenmuth Insurance," Haley said.

    Frankenmuth declined an interview. However, vice president of claims Andy Knudsen stated, "Both parties are represented by legal counsel. Frankenmuth is currently in settlement negotiations with the other party's attorneys. We won't litigate or negotiate the issue publicly."

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