DANVERS, Mass. — Gary Ferguson first noticed large cracks along the back wall of his garage in October.
“It’s going to fall,” Ferguson said from his backyard on Orchard Lane in Danvers. “Then the garage is eventually going to rip off from the house and probably take half the house with it.”
Ferguson, a Persian Gulf War veteran, bought the home with his wife and two children in March 2022. Because of the competitive housing market, Ferguson said he felt pressure to waive a home inspection to make his offer more attractive. It’s a decision he’s come to regret.
“[A home inspection] might have opened my eyes up a little bit more,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson filed a claim with his insurance company, Union Mutual, to repair the wall and foundation. However, Union Mutual denied the claim and dropped Ferguson as a customer on Dec. 19. The company said foundation damage isn’t covered under the terms of his policy and according to a notice of non-renewal, his policy is not being renewed because the home “does not meet underwriting criteria due to the condition of the foundation under the garage.”
A Union Mutual spokesperson declined to comment.
“We’re in limbo at this point. We’re afraid we’re going to lose the house,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said he can’t afford to fix the foundation himself–the cost is estimated between $50,000 and $75,000. He’s said he’s contacted 83 licensed insurance companies in Massachusetts and can’t get coverage from any of them. Ferguson said force-place homeowner’s insurance from his mortgage lender is going to cost him between $5,000 and $7,000 a year, which would increase his mortgage by $500 to $600 a month.
“I can’t afford that,” Ferguson said. “I can’t sustain it.”
North Shore home inspector Jameson Malgeri has been warning buyers for years not to waive inspections because of the potential for catastrophic problems down the road. Malgeri supports Senate Bill 197 and House Bill 245 — known as An Act Protecting Consumer Rights in Purchasing Safe and Habitable Homes — which would make home inspections a right in Massachusetts. Supporters of the legislation say prospective home buyers would no longer feel the pressure to waive inspection to sweeten an offer.
“I think it would be obvious to any home inspector that he has a serious structural concern,” Malgeri said. “Not only would have flagged it, there would have been an urgency to deal with it.”
Ferguson’s Union Mutual coverage expires Mar. 1.
“It’s awful. I’m upset. My wife’s upset,” he said. “Worst case scenario, I lose the house.”
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Clinton Mora is a reporter for Trending Insurance News. He has previously worked for the Forbes. As a contributor to Trending Insurance News, Clinton covers emerging a wide range of property and casualty insurance related stories.