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Insurance company denies homeowner’s claim after roof collapses;  says it’s a maintenance issue

CHICAGO (SCS) — The entire floor of a house in northwest Indiana is off limits due to a rotting roof. The family say they are in limbo, awaiting help from insurance.

Morning Insider Lauren Victory explains why they might not get the answer they’re looking for.

“They’re all buckets full of water, how black they are,” Martha Feliciano said as she showed roofing expert Joshua Grah what used to be her bedroom. “I mean, the mold over there is ridiculous.”

The floor of his house in Portage smelled musty.

“It’s horrible, the smell is horrible,” Feliciano said. She has already moved her bed and her son’s crib out of the bedroom.

“We literally slept on the floor,” the mother-of-six said.

She noticed a leak in March 2021 and filed a claim with State Farm. After going back and forth with insurance for more than six months, she received a letter with all sorts of legal language that, in simple terms, informed her that State Farm had denied her claim, saying the issues at inside the house were due to rot and deterioration.

“I just gave up. I didn’t want to fight them,” Feliciano said.

Then she returned home with a collapsed ceiling last month.

“I walked in and saw everything splash on the floor and I’m like and I closed the door immediately,” she said.

The damage was even worse than before with debris all over the floor and insulation hanging from the ceiling. Feliciano might have to pay for it out of pocket.

State Farm could not speak to specifics in its case, but referred CBS 2 to Janet Ruiz of the Insurance Information Institute for general information about the claims.

Ruiz explains that roof replacement is usually only covered by insurers for accidental loss like a windstorm or fire, not rot and deterioration. Insurance is not a maintenance policy, she says.

“[If] it’s just a matter of age and wear and tear that happened over a long period of time that wouldn’t be a covered loss,” Ruiz said.

So, divine intervention might be needed for Grah’s Bill and more.

“It’s expensive,” he said, unwilling to give us a specific number. Grah works for Restoration Builders of NWI.

Feliciano is praying for help and for sunny days to come because the tarps on his roof right now can only block so much rain.

She recently filed a second claim with State Farm and is patiently waiting to see if insurance will cover her this time around.


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