After the Storm: Settling disputes between victims, insurers over damage
TRENTON, DADE COUNTY, GA. (WRCB)-- For the moment, tarps are all that cover what last month's E-F-3 tornado did to 257 Glenview Drive, the house in Trenton, GA that Velvie Moore, 84, has called home for more than forty years.
"In the upstairs, there is the whole wall out of one bedroom," her daughter Kathy Moore says.
"The wall is out of a second bedroom , which is totally detached from the house."
Her mother's been able to salvage only her clothes and her makeup.
"A neighbor had to carry her out of the neighborhood in a four-wheeler," Moore says. "She was not hurt. God was looking over her."
Velvie Moore would wait more than two weeks for FEMA, and the adjustor for her insurance company, State Farm to issue their appraisals.
The two verdicts couldn't be any more different.
"FEMA's walked in here and he said there's no point in doing my inspection report; this house is destroyed."
Moore doesn't have that in writing. Instead, FEMA's Individuals and Households Program Officer sent her mother a letter, telling her she might qualify for aid, but only after her insurance company settles her claim.
State Farm, Moore says, has told her the home is fixable, for little more than half its insured value
"You can't rebuild anything for $60,500," she says. "Building costs are sky-high! They've tripled, at least, in the last month!"
State Farm won't comment on specific claims,but spokesman Justin Tomczak tells Eyewitness News that the company has frameworks for settling claim disputes.
"There's the option of a second opinion to make sure your house is repaired to the level it should be," he says.
Moore is taking it further; to the Georgia Insurance Commission.
Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia insurance laws provide for mediation of claim disputes via the "appraisal clause" written in to many homeowner's policies.
Georgia law requires homeowners request such mediation in writing.
Policy-holder and company each then hire a 'competent, independent' appraiser from an approve list. Each appraiser sets a value for the loss. An umpire, mutually-agreed-upon, will settle any differences. All written agreements are binding.
"But in the meantime, my mother is still essentially homeless, " Moore says.
Velvie Moore is staying with her daughter in East Ridge while her daughter works through the dispute. Kathy Moore maintains that dollars aren't the issue.
"I think it should not be rebuilt, without it being taken to the ground," she says. Because I don't believe that I would ever feel it was safe for my mother to live in."