Homeowner frustrations grow over unpaid storm claims

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 5:23 PM

FORNEY – Man versus nature is a theme we all know –– but what about man versus insurance conglomerate?

That's Randy Curtis' story. And he doesn't like the way it ends, either.

"I'm totally disgusted," said Curtis, who lives on the border of Terrell and Forney.

After vicious April tornadoes ripped through the Forney area, Curtis noticed insurance companies replacing roofs in his neighborhood. He also noticed, with frustration, how his insurance company, All State, refused to replace his, or the roof right next door, or the roof directly across the street.

All of them All State customers.

"All I want is to be treated fairly by my insurance company,” Curtis said.

Roofer Roddi Boesel does too. News 8 outfitted him with cameras as he inspected Curtis' roof, which showed large patches of loose shingles.

His opinion? Curtis needs a new roof to the tune of $14,000 to $16,000. News 8 asked him if 100 of his peers inspected the same roof, how many of them would agree the roof needs to be replaced?

"Oh, every one of them," Boesel said. "Every single one."

Boesel also inspected the home next door to Curtis’, owned by Mark Scensy, and reached the same conclusion.

"I'm not happy with All State, at all,” Scensy said.

All State says it's paid out 10,000 claims in connection with the storm.

News 8 contacted the company about the three unpaid claims in Randy Curtis' neighborhood and asked the company to review their decisions. They did and determined, again, that the company was right, even though All State never reached back out to homeowners or re-inspected their roofs.

In a statement, the company writes it's committed to customer satisfaction and this: "Each policy and case is unique, and the determination of insurance coverage may differ from expectations that may be set by some contractors who come into a neighborhood after a storm."

But not every claim ends that way.

Robert Rice works for a company called Skipton and Associates. The way you might hire an attorney to deal with the IRS, Skipton works on commission for commercial clients taking on insurance companies.

Clients like Cal-Tex Produce, in Dallas. The company's roof was damaged in that big June hailstorm that hit Lakewood, but was turned down by its commercial insurance carrier.

After Skipton stepped in?

"Right now, what we've received in proceeds is a little over $200,000," Rice said. "And we're still working on that."

"The moral is, sometimes you need somebody in your corner fighting for you,” said Cal-Tex co-owner Jimmy Hutton.

That's true for the little guy, too, if you complain to the Texas Department of Insurance. Last year, the state resolved more than 18,000 insurance complaints and returned $29 million to consumers.

"We're able to take a look at what the company is doing, how the claim is being handled, and then be able to address those issues with the carrier to assist the consumer,” said Valerie Brown with the Texas Department of Insurance.

It's an option few homeowners, like Randy Curtis, know about. But when your life story is man-versus-insurance conglomerate, sometimes it helps to have an extra set of good hands.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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