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Insurance company went bankrupt and then? – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

(WSVN) – They had insurance when a hurricane damaged their roof but the insurance company denied their claim, and when they fought back, the company went out of business and then more bad luck followed. If you worry about insurance companies, take a look at this Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

First comes the warnings then comes the wind and there goes the roof.

Scott Ledina: “There was more than 25% damage to the roof. A bunch of tiles were ripped off.”

Scott and his father Michael got hit by Hurricane Irma way back in 2017.

That they are still dealing with the problem shows how difficult hurricane damage can be.

Michael Ledina: “I filed the claim. The claim was denied after they sent their representatives to take a look.”

Michael then had to sue St. Johns Insurance.

In the meantime, Scott had to stop the leaks.

Scott Ledina: “Well, I had to go up and patch the roof. There was water damage, so there was mold. My dad has lung cancer, so that’s not good.”

Things got worse.

St. Johns, the company they had paid to cover them in case of a disaster, went belly up. Bankrupt. Out of business.

Howard, what now?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “If your insurance company goes bankrupt, you are not out of luck. Every time you pay your policy, you pay a fee to fund a state agency called Florida Insurance Guarantee Association or FIGA. They will cover your loss but you may have to sue them in court to get your money.”

The Ledina’s did and while they fought the state in court, they were hit with headaches closer to home.

The damaged roof upset the city.

Coral Springs cited the Ledina’s for not power-washing the roof and the missing tiles Scott removed when he patched it.

Scott explained what was going on.

Scott Ledina: “We would say, ‘Hey, we’re in litigation. We’re waiting for the state to pay us money. We want the problem fixed more than you do.’”

Scott said the city gave him a four month extension but when that expired, he discovered the daily fines had been reinstated from the date of the first violation.

Scott Ledina: “I’m being told that there’s a lien on the house that is of, you know, over $20,000.”

Finally after six years, the case was settled.

The state paid their claim and the roof was installed. But since it took so long, Scott and his father are left with that $20,000 lien.

Scott Ledina: “My father, who’s been a pillar of the community, why should he be the one holding the bag? Why should he have to pay?”

If it’s not your fault for the violations, Howard, do you still have to pay the fines?

Howard Finkelstein: “Unfortunately, yes. The city can fine you but they don’t have to impose fines. They could give you a break because of your unique circumstances.”

The city sort of helped.

Coral Springs lowered the fine from $20,000 to $1,010 but they added $729 in administrative fees.

Michael Ledina: “I am pleased that we are gonna get a resolving of the issue but if I had to pay less, of course, I would be much happier.”

And Scott wonders if the long battle took its toll on his father. Michael had a stroke while fighting the insurance company, the state and the city.

Scott Ledina: “Could have potentially what caused him to have a stroke. I don’t know. I can’t say it did, I can’t say its didn’t. I know it didn’t help.”

But now it’s over. Thank goodness.

Michael Ledina: “I am always happy with Help Me Howard.

Scott Ledina: “It comforted me to know that if things didn’t go correctly, that I had you guys in my corner.”

Scott was able to patch up the leak, but the problem we see so often is homeowners cannot afford to fix the damage, forcing them to settle with the insurance company for much less than they are owed.

If you have damage and are fighting the insurance company, open a home equity line and use that money to repair your house. Try to borrow from a relative or put it on a credit card.

Then pay it back when you settle with the insurance company.

A problem blown you away? Ready to storm back? Lean on us to insure help is not denied.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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