After filing a claim with your insurance company, you used to receive a check for the damage and have the problem fixed, but 2NEWS Consumer Reporter John Matarese warns homeowners in growing numbers are having to fight to get their checks.
If a tree falls on your house, your insurance company is supposed to pay.
In the old days, your insurer would write you a check, but these days it's not so simple.
More and more homeowners are having trouble getting their money.
Bill Heulsman's garage was damage in late June when a storm left his neighborhood a mess.
"The tree, I literally saw it crack and fall on top of the structure," he said.
Luckily he had insurance.
"The adjuster came out, looked at the building and determined it was a total loss," said Heulsman.
But his excitement over receiving a check for $18,000 for repairs quickly turned to frustration.
"It was made out to me, my wife and my mortgage company, PNC Mortgage," said Heulsman.
The problem, he says, is that PNC gave him just $600 to remove the tree. Without the rest of the money, he says he can't fix the garage.
"They pretty much want me to do this structure and get it inspected before they release the money," he said. "Well, I can't do that because they have the money I need to replace or rebuild the structure."
We contacted PNC Mortgage and the bank agreed to release the rest of the check, saying it was a misunderstanding.
PNC says it's now common for insurance checks to go to the mortgage holder instead of the homeowner, who sometimes keeps the money and skips the repairs.
You can ask your agent to send the money directly to a contractor, which can ensure that you don't end up like the Heulsmans, waiting and waiting.
Before your insurance company cuts a check for a repair, make sure you come to an understanding with your agent about exactly how much money you'll be getting and who will be receiving it. That way you won't end up in a jam and you don't waste your money.
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