After losing most of my personal contents and replacing nearly every wall, floor, appliance, cabinet, piece of furniture and utility within my home I continue to fight for restitution. I’m not mad that a storm came through. I’m not even mad that I lost all my belongings. I have worked quickly with family, friends, and contractors to get my house back to “normal.” We have finally moved back in just prior to Christmas (which was our goal), and realizing we are more fortunate than many who are still trying to gain access to their streets, and determine if anything is salvageable, we are now plagued with a problem bigger than the force of the hurricane. This problem is the pathetic red tape and antics we are forced to endure by our nation’s largest banks and insurance companies. To name them specifically, (in my case), Wells Fargo and Allstate.
With nearly no early support from Allstate, I followed my instructions and quickly mediated the mess left behind; pumping out water, removing walls and insulation, and fanning out the home with hopes of stopping the growth of mold before it becomes a hazard. I began paying contractors and retail outlets with my savings, my investment money placed aside, and with credit cards. Day after day, the bills were growing. The ironic thing was day after day, false promises from insurance companies were growing too. Every time I called my insurance company I was told “in seven to ten days you will have some answers.” Then of course seven to ten days would pass, and still no answers. The mountain of bills were growing rapidly, but piling up as quickly was the level of disheartening and misleading info dished to me by my insurance company.
So, after roughly two and a half months I finally received my insurance settlement. And while I may not agree with a high percentage of their findings, I am happy to finally have a sizeable check which I can use to begin paying off the credit cards, and money owed to friends, family, and contractors. Little did I know when trying to deposit this check, I needed it endorsed by my mortgage holder, Wells Fargo. I thought to myself, this should be too hard… there’s a Wells Fargo in town. They will look up my account and see that I’m still current on my mortgage. I haven’t missed a payment. They know about the disaster, in fact, they called asking if I need to defer my monthly mortgage payments as they were offering this “courtesy” for up to three months (but then telling you the accrued amount must be paid back in full at the end of the three months). The rep at the bank sadly apologized and said I was the third person today she needed to explain this too. Wells Fargo’s policy for checks over $20,000 was that they need to be sent into corporate along with a plethora of paperwork and then have my house inspected by a Wells representative to see that the work is actually 100% complete. Then, and only then would they release the funds from the insurance check directly to me. I did everything I was told (reluctantly). I found the forms online, I over-nighted the check to Wells along with the signed paperwork. I even sent them a check for $30 so they can over night me back the allocated funds. (Hysterical that they ask for $30 from a person who just sent them a check for tens of thousands of dollars. The same person who they collect nearly $3,000 a month from for mortgage payments, and a person who will inevitably pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars in mortgage interest over thirty years. Or simply, a person who just lost their home and its contents). When sending my mail to the bank on Jan 2nd, I assumed in a week’s time, they would receive my documents, issue a check back (as promised) and mail back (using my $30 to over night it). Well on Jan 14th, there was still no return to me. So, I called, and apparently after being placed on hold several times and being bounced from person to person, I finally was told, they would release some of the funds today. However I needed to fill out yet another form and return it in order to get my home inspected. And without this inspection, the bulk and balance of MY check would not be mailed back to me. I asked why this form wasn’t brought to my attention when I filled out the initial paperwork and no logical answer was returned. I asked for the form to be emailed, and I was told it could not. They would however fax it, but it could take up to 48 hours. As you can imagine, after 48 hours, not only did the fax not come, but neither did the check that was promised to be sent over night to me on Monday, (now being Wednesday night). After several more calls, I finally spoke with someone who was able to fax me the form but had no explanation to why my check was still missing. I instantly filled out the form and faxed it back. The next morning, I called Wells Fargo again to be put on hold again and answer the same enduring questions yet again and I finally find out that they don’t have this form which I just faxed the day prior, and they have no record of my check being sent. I ask myself (while trying to keep my demeanor) does anyone here have a clue? It took way too long for Allstate to send me the money that was rightfully owed to me. And now that I got it, now Wells Fargo is wrongfully holding this check before releasing it to me. I will have no payment, conflicting responses, and little hope. I should have known this was going to happen. There are hundreds of similar stories online from others dealing or who have dealt with the same nonsense.
As the clock ticks, and days are crossed off the calendar, I watch the credit card interest grow. I assume Wells Fargo is collecting interest on my money sitting in their account, and I continue to wonder how I am going to get through the next few days. I am paying interest on my high credit card balances which I never had before. And, on top of this nonsense, I must find a minimum of an hour or two a day to make follow up calls to the bank (and previously the insurance company) just to see that they are following up with their promises.
I ask… can anyone justify this system? Why the delays? And what can we do? Who can we talk with to get results? I’m only one home owner in a sea of thousands dealing with the same.