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Hey Travelor's Insurance??? This One's For You!

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It's amazing just how many readers have followed the ongoing true life 'David & Goliath' story. Is this any indication of how many homeowners have been treated in the same manner by an insurance company or city government? 

UPDATE: We, the Plaintiffs have now filed an 'Amended Petition' to include Count II against Traveler's Insurance. We charge Travelors Insurance for "Vexatious Refusal to Pay Our Insurance Claim." 

 

The Plaintiffs' Attorney, Larry A. Bagsby, noted the variety of reasons given by Traveler's Insurance for denial of our claim, which included:

1.) The City is not responsible because they had no idea it was going to happen?

2.) The 2.9" of rain that fell the prior evening caused the back-up.

3.)  And, tree roots had overgrown in the lateral line located on the Robinson's property. (As of this date, there has been no other back-up AND the Robinson's have never had to call for any service to be performed on the lateral line - not on the day of the flooding, or any other day to this date.)

4.) Additionally, to this date, no representative of Travelers Insurance has investigated the incident past a couple phone calls after reported to the Missouri Department of Insurance. 

 

For those of you not familiar with this atrocity, the story is re-posted below. Other articles and comments may be found in the "Consumer Beware" section of this newsletter.

The Story... (written November 2010) 

 'The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways'… a truism that we face everyday!  We have the means to tell the story, to warn the public, so maybe this has happened for a reason?

  When the heavy rains of this past week met a clog in the City of O’Fallon’s sewer main line that runs along Brookfield Lane, guess whose house was the lucky recipient of all the stormwater?  Ours. Yes, we woke on Friday, October 30th to approximately 4” of backed up stormwater in our finished basement. The site was shocking and frightening.

  Within minutes we discovered at least one other neighbor had the same misfortune to face, for he already had a plumber at his home. The plumber informed us that the back-up was caused by a blockage in the main line.

  I immediately called the City of O’Fallon Water/Sewer Department and within 30 minutes the truck and team were outside, down the street and blowing the clog out of the main line. Shortly after we heard the roar of the truck,  we heard gurgling in our pipes, and the water began to recede. Within minutes, we were left with a saturated basement – minus the four inches of standing water, and the advice to call O’Fallon City Hall for further instructions. The city's technician explained that there was a clog in the pipe, 40 –some yards away from our home connection, and by the luck of the draw (that can only be calculated by some hydrolic equation) the water backs up in various homes, but not all homes. Lucky us!

  Our call was immediately directed to Dan Scherer, a longtime expert with the water/sewer department in O’Fallon. He explained that since the City of O’Fallon brought all the operations in-house, claims such as these are now handled by a staff member in city hall, who was not at their desk that day. He suggested that I call John Griesenauer, Human Resource director with the city.

  As always, John was very helpful in explaining the new process in the handling of such problems. He immediately filed for a claim number and forwarded the information to me. In the new process, that was all the city staff could do. The rest was up to their insurance company – Travelers Insurance.

   Here’s where all the problems begin. And from this point forward, this article will serve as a journal of daily events until the closure is met with Travelers Insurance Company. It is my hope that this document brings fair and honest closure to this awful scenario and also serves as an educational piece for anyone who may face the same unfortunate experience in the future, for there will always be clogged main lines and damages sustained from such. In my opinion, no one should ever have to muddle through to a solution, as we have been forced to do. ( but alas, I’m getting ahead of myself…)

  At 11:30am on October 30, 2009, we received a phone call from a Margaret Loyd from Travelers Insurance. In what we perceived as a very cold, uncaring manner,  Ms Loyd explained that she called to explain three things. First, she wanted to give us her name, phone number and extension and a claim number.  She wanted to let us know it could take 2-3 weeks to render a decision on whether Travelers Insurance would "accept" the claim, and finally, she told us to “mitigate our damages”.

  I was shocked that her statement included “whether they would accept the claim”. My warning signals went off. I explained that there was a drenched basement to contend with that could not wait for 2-3 weeks for their ‘decision’ and that something had to be done immediately to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. (Anyone that suffers from serious allergy problems can understand my sense of concern over these words.) Ms Loyd just continued to repeat her sterile, careless tone of voice and repeated the “mitigate” statement. Finally Ms Loyd stated that we should call our homeowners insurance company and file a claim.  She then added it will take 2-3 weeks to review the past ten years of records on the history of the sewer main where the clog occurred.

  It was obvious, at this point,  that the conversation was over. I voiced my displeasure over the way this situation was handled and began to consider my alternate options. My husband took over the task of conversiations with the insurance companies. I began to take notes.

  He called our homeowners insurance company – MetLife Insurance. We were immediately informed that IF we opened a claim with them, there would be a $1,000 deducible AND we should be aware that it will cause an increase in rates, or possibly denial in renewal of our policy in the future. Once again we were truly stunned and frazzled. Why in the world would we be penalized for a problem caused by the City of O’Fallon’s sewer lines? In the meantime, the basement and all our belonging remain drenched.

  Brian played phone tag with Travelers Insurance's Ms Loyd’s supervior – Matt Therrien.  He provided little to no further assistance. And after the first phone conversation, he never returned a call. (Folks, it's hard to anger a Canadian. Brian was furious at the poor service.)

  Both Travelers Insurance and MetLife Insurance agent’s suggested we call someone experienced in water damage clean-up, but neither would accept responsibility for the payment of the services. This would leave us responsible for the costs of clean-up, which we guestimated to be in excess of a thousand dollars to several thousand dollars. We called Servicemaster and asked if they even provide services and await commitment for payment from insurance companies. They replied that we would have to pay the costs at the time of completion. They also advised us that anything that came in contact with the water needed to be thrown out. That was the only background knowledge we had in how to "mitigate" damages.

  We stepped back to evaluate the situation. Our basement and belongings were soaked with sewer water. Travelers Insurance Company refused to provide the initial assistance in drying out the basement. We were approaching 5:00pm on a Friday afternoon and no party has step forward to help with the situation. How can this be happening? We did not have  the liquid funds readily available to hire the service ourselves and immediately pay out of our pockets. What were we to do?

  At 6:00pm, we began to try to extract water from the carpet with the use of our household Bissell Carpet Cleaner. We worked until 1:30am when our Bissell finally died. We stopped out of exhaustion. Work began again at 7:00am, Saturday morning. Our children are clearing their schedules to join in our efforts to dry out our home. Careful detailed notes are now kept on every item destroyed in the mishap. We hope to get our home to the point that it is safe for us to reside and breathe safely. And, as of Saturday, 10:00am – not one responsible party has contacted us to check on the progression of the clean-up.

  If this is the result of the City of O’Fallon bringing the water/sewer services in-house to save money, then customers of the service best be aware and follow what transpires with our situation for…you could be next.

  It was my fellow neighbor that suggested/asked that I share this information with all our readers.  I agree that all homeowners should be aware of the ‘operations’ of insurance companies past the point of selling their policies. I will now contact some of the elected city councilmen about the situation.