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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


 

Pity the fool (me)....I read a story in the press almost every day about homeowners who are still dealing with issues related to Hurricane Ike. It’s hard to believe they are still having problems over a year after Ike roared through. I usually have dismissed the stories with a “ho hum,” or “surely they exaggerate.”

However, recently I’ve been on the other end of the situation with a home insurance claim, and I can understand their frustration.

I had reason to make a claim on my home insurance a couple of months ago. My dealings with the insurance company were cordial and accomplished within a month. I have to add the disclaimer that my claim was not that much, nothing like the devastation that happened to homeowners during Ike.

But then I ran into the buzz saw of my mortgage company. When I received a check from the insurance company, it was made out to me and my mortgage company, Citi Mortgage, which also owns Citibank. I thought I had only to send the check to Citi, and they would endorse it and send it back to me. WRONG!

I had to send it and a lot of papers to Citi and they would (supposedly) eventually endorse it and send it back to me. That’s been a month ago.

First, I had to file all the papers. I downloaded them from Citi’s web site and filled them all in and sent them with my check. About a week later, after I called to ask about the situation, they informed me that I had not sent ALL the adjuster’s papers. I had only sent the first and last couple of pages. They wanted all 34 pages which detailed and measured all the damage done.

Now mind you, the insurance company was satisfied and sent me the check. But the mortgage company wanted to know every detail of the damage, not just a summation. So off went the 34 pages.

Still no money.....By now, it had been at least two weeks, and I had been working on repairing the house on my own dime even before the insurance adjuster arrived. I was running low on funds and since it wasn’t that much money from the insurance company and since I had been making house payments for more than 10 years, I couldn’t understand why the mortgage company wouldn’t go ahead and send me the check. Obviously, the house was worth far more than the mortgage I owed.

Another point is that for the over 10 years I had been making a mortgage payment, I had it drafted from my bank account so I never had a late payment.

But now these (dirty word) wanted to send me payments in increments of thirds, each increment after they completed an inspection.

“What?” I asked them. “Is Citi broke and can’t pay me my money now?”

I was informed I had to call and arrange for an inspection which would take 3-5 days for the inspector to call me back, then 3-5 days for him to get to my house for an inspection.

Finally, that was accomplished last week. An inspection was made and the mortgage company would finally release at least 1/3 of the funds. That was a week ago.

When I called them to ask about when a check might be arriving, they said it would be about a week--”five business days.”

Okay, so now I’m getting it. Citi has my insurance money and is lending it out to other people and earning the interest, or it is buying T-bills and keeping the interest?

In every telephone call, I’ve reminded them that I don’t owe that much on the house, that the insurance money is my money as I have made all the premium payments, and they are dirty rotten (dirty word).

Maybe I’ll never get it.....Here’s the deal. I don’t currently live in the house. I am lucky. If I did, my problems would probably be compounded. And I don’t have to pay rent where I live, in addition to my house payment, which many people did during Ike.

Now I’m beginning to understand the Ike victims’ frustrations. Many of them had to move from their homes because they were too damaged to live in, and they had to pay to live somewhere else while making payments on their damaged house. Then they had to contend with a company, be it an insurance company or mortgage company, who had as a company policy to keep your funds and loan them out for interest. The longer they took to pay you, the more money they made.

I hate them. As soon as the house is repaired, I’m going to refinance and it won’t be with Citi who I think is broke anyway.

I know there are cases when homeowners have taken the insurance money and not had the repairs made and eventually let the house go back to the mortgage company. But it is obvious that my house is worth much more that I currently owe on it. I even had the branch manager of the local Citibank call the company for me to vouch that I was fulfilling my obligation. It did not do one whit of good.

It’s not the money as much as it is the frustration of knowing you are dealing with a large, uncaring company that can treat you any way it wants. Someone needs to tell them that Karma is building up on them. One day it will be villagers with torches and pitchforks.

I pity the Ike victims all over again.

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Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:
December 16, 2009