Hail Storm Hits Minneapolis, MN

Homeowners Voice Concerns After Severe Hail Storm

Eden Prairie Homeowners vs. Big Insurance Co.

Minneapolis Neighborhood Deals With Backlash of Insurance Claim Rejections 

Minneapolis — American Family Insurance has paid out about $4.5 billion nationwide through the first three quarters of 2011 to repair, rebuild and replace homes, vehicles and other property damaged by the year’s significant weather.

But about 80 homeowners insured by American Family who reside in the city’s Suburban Development off Highway 100 who claim their roofs were damaged by hail apparently have been left holding the bag.

“A fellow neighbor and myself canvassed much of the subdivision, and we probably have about 80 people who were denied,” said South Minneapolis homeowner Matt Hawkins.

More than 60 people showed up for a meeting of the Eden Prairie Homeowners Association earlier in the week to discuss their legal options.

“We were just trying to figure out what can be done next,” Hawkins said. No decisions were reached.

The American Family policyholders are at a loss to explain how their claims are not being honored, while neighbors, some living next door or across the street, have had claims for hail damage settled promptly, according to Hawkins, himself a customer of American Family, the nation’s largest insurer, with about 81 million policyholders.

A number of roofing companies told some of the American Family policyholders they had hail damage, but American Family adjusters said no, some without climbing onto roofs for closer inspections.

“How can you tell without even going up there?” Hawkins said.

One adjuster told Hawkins he inspected another house down the street to make his evaluation on Hawkins’s Lakeside Drive colonial home. An adjuster eventually did go onto his roof for a closer look, according to Hawkins.

“I’ve never filed a claim on my home,” Hawkins said.

Persistence paid off for Hawkins, who was just approved for repairs last weekend. The approval followed a complaint he submitted to the Minnesota Department of Insurance over handling of his claim by American Family. “Within a couple of days I had a call from American Family and by the weekend, someone was out to look at the roof.”

But most others are still waiting. Some who attended the homeowners’ association meeting spoke of adjusters sent by American Family who tried to talk them out of filing hail damage claims, saying they could be dropped for doing so.

“Why do you pay for insurance for 45 years and when you need it, you’re told you might get dropped … for an act of nature?” Hawkins said.

Citing privacy regulations, Eric Smith, a public affairs specialist for American Family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said the insurer could not comment on cases involving individual policyholders.

“Regardless of how busy a claims season is, and this has been an especially busy season with all the hail and wind damage across the country, we handle each claim on its own merits,” Smith said. “We work to pay policyholders what they are owed under terms of individual policies, whether folks are in the same subdivision or not.”

Hawkins said he was told that a American Family adjuster claimed the company was very aware of the development’s active homeowners’ association.”

Some who didn’t give up eventually wound up being approved for roof repairs or new roofs.

“Some hired their own engineer who agreed there was hail damage,” Hawkins said. “If people can get together to form a lot of voices, it becomes a little more difficult to ignore.”

Any policyholder unhappy with the outcome of a claims decision made by their insurance company should contact the firms’ customer service department for a re-evaluation, Smith said.

 


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