Residents Face Long Battle With Insurers

August 8, 2014
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There was still a lot of sweeping to do on Taft Street and other heavily affected tornado areas last Thursday.

Bundles of sticks, roofing material and glass still occupied the streets.

Heavy mud adorned pieces of vinyl siding, and some people were still struggling to get electricity re-connected.

But by and large, residents had hurtled full on from clean up into the insurance system – whether for their homes, property or vehicles – and it has been no picnic for some.

On Taft Street late last week, residents said their insurance has been fair to a point, but it has been quite apparent that keeping on top of the situation will likely be a full-time job for the next year.

“I went through my house with an adjuster this week from my company, MetLife, and they were very thorough, but you have to be there with them to make sure they catch everything,” said Joe Polito of Taft Street. “Every policy is different I’m hearing. On ours, we had a $1,000 wind and hail damage deductible. However, there was a second deductible of $11,000 that would have kicked in if this was a predicted storm. They’re telling me now that because this was something that couldn’t be predicted, they’re probably going to waive that.”

He said he plans to be very proactive, though.

“My adjuster said to make sure to stay on top of it,” he said. “You end up really having to be the squeaky wheel. You can’t just sit back and wait for a call. You have to stay active, call the insurance company, call the adjuster and get the claim number going. The frustrating part is not knowing because there are no plans for something like this.”

Across the street, Ricardo Pompe said he was taking delivery of a washing machine into his basement when the twister wrecked his house. The delivery man and he were sucked into the basement violently, but not hurt.

The same cannot be said of his home, which suffered tremendous damage and is currently uninhabitable.

He said he has spoken with his company, Fairmount, but he has a long path ahead of him that could take months to straighten out.

“I have to say they seem pretty fair so far,” he said.

That hasn’t been and probably won’t be the case for many Revere homeowners that – while insured – will be potentially faced with five-digit deductibles just to get the repair ball rolling.

Mayor Dan Rizzo – who has had a successful insurance business in Revere for decades – said one of the tricky parts about Revere homeowner policies is that many are based on percentages due to the City being on the coast.

That, he said, can send modest deductibles through the roof.

“A lot of the costs associated with clean up aren’t covered by insurance,” said Rizzo. “People have to pay that out of their pockets and it’s significant. Also, because we are a coastal community, the policies here have percentage deductibles. A lot of people don’t have a fixed dollar deductible. Some of the deductibles are up to 7 percent of the policy. If you have $200,000 of coverage you would have a $2,000 deductible that could go to a $14,000 deductible. There are people in Revere who have serious gaps in coverage. It’s my hope that they will be able to benefit from our tornado relief fund to get some help with these things.”

Even the City of Revere, he said, will face a $10,000 insurance deductible in order to get repairs going on the eight City-owned buildings that were damaged.

State and local officials advised affected homeowner to take a long view on repairs – and certainly not rushing into any repair jobs with unknown companies.

Mayor Rizzo said there have already been some issues with companies who have moved in and tried to take advantage of tornado victims who are looking to put their lives back together quickly.

“That has unfortunately happened, but we were able to take care of it,” he said.

Barbara Anthony, a Revere native who is the undersecretary for the state Division of Insurance, said it might be time for homeowners to read their policy.

She said there are regular deductibles, flood insurance, and wind deductibles that will be spelled out. Also, replacement costs for severely damaged homes should be noted.

“One thing consumers need to do is pull their insurance policies out,” she said. “Many hate to read them, but when you need to, you need to. Insurance agents can also be very helpful in this situations. I would advise people to call their agents. It’s also a wake up call. Many people bought their homes a long time ago and replacement costs on those policies might need to be updated. Replacement costs today are not what they were 15 or 20 years ago.”

She advised people to take pictures of damages before making any emergency repairs. She also said to keep receipts for anything purchased to make repairs.

“Keep all your receipts for reimbursement and make sure to take pictures first,” she said.

The state insurance question hotline is (877) 563-4467.

The state consumer affairs hotline is (888) 282-3757

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