TROUBLESHOOTERS: State Farm denies ceiling collapse claim

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“It took 3 weeks until I was able to get a repairman in here past the time of letting them know that I wasn’t covered anymore,” said Michael Droste.

Michael Droste needed help after his ceiling collapsed in June.

There were pounds of insulation and drywall on the floor.

“Unbelievable. I couldn’t believe that everything had come down and that the ceiling was no longer in its proper place.”

He said he called his insurance company, State Farm, right away.

An inspector didn’t come out for 5 days.

A third party company was later sent out to look at the room and Droste said that got his hopes up.

“I thought ok, they’re bringing out their big guns and hopefully they’ll be able to find the real reason as to why it came down and it would be covered,” said Droste.

What Droste thought would be a quick response from there turned into him being ghosted; calls and emails left unanswered.

“Horrible. Disgusted. I couldn’t believe that they would simply ignore the problem, ignore a customers request for even contact information, for any update.”

One day he went to his mailbox to find a packet from the insurance company.

The letter, dated July 24th, reads in part, “Based on the Engineering Systems Inc. report, the collapse of the ceiling was caused by the long-term pullout from gravity forces of the nailed connections that attached the drywall to the structural framing. The ceiling drywall was nailed to the trusses with smooth finish nails without the gluing of the drywall to the bottom chords of the truss…damage from this cause of loss is not covered by your policy.”

In response Droste said, “I think that’s just horrendous that they would do such a thing to the little guy.”

Jessica Cook asked a State Farm spokesperson for a response.

It read in part, “A homeowner’s insurance policy provides collapse coverage for specific perils or causes of loss. If the collapse is caused by something other than these identified causes, collapse is not a covered loss in the policy.”

When Jessica Cook first shared Droste’s story he said he wasn’t sure how he was going to fix the room.

Droste had to take out a high interest rate loan to get the room finished since State Farm isn’t covering the collapse.

He hired someone to do the work, but there are still imperfections due to what he could afford.

“I’m trying to get the word out that even though you have insurance, you think they’re going to be there for you, they wont,” added Droste.

A spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute said it’s important to read through your policy to make sure you know exactly what you have signed up for.

“They’re paying for it. They should know what’s covered and what’s not so there’s no surprises come claims time…reading it gives you a good idea of asking your insurance company about any additional protection you might need,” said Lynne McChristian, Information Insurance Institute.

She said a home insurance policy is not a home maintenance policy.

Droste said he’s in the process of looking for a new insurance company, but this retired teacher has one more grade to determine.

“I’d give them, if I was still teaching, a D- to an F.”

The letter from State Farm said Droste can take up the matter with the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Droste said he doesn’t plan on doing that.

Jessica Cook

Jessica Cook

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