Contact 2: Home Insurance

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A Pine lawn family literally forgets about an insurance claim that was paid almost a decade ago. It included money for demolishing their home after a fire. The homeowners called Contact 2 because they needed a little help since demolition never occurred. We asked the Lou Thimes, the Mayor`s spokesperson about a refund.'The old administration neglected and overlooked it. The new administration under Caldwell has decided to do something about it, to resolve it.'

That`s good news for Elbert Smith the property owner. 'I`m glad I found all my paperwork to receive the money since they didn`t destroy the house.' His mother Paulette Misher owned the house. She passed in 1997. Two years later a fire forced her children to relocate. Smith filed an insurance claim. It included $5,000 to be paid to the city of Pine Lawn. Thimes acknowledges the city had the money. 'We hold that money in the event the homeowner chooses not to fix up the home, we then have the money to tear it down.'

Smith planned to make repairs so the family could return. But he says back then the pine lawn building inspector was not very helpful. 'He said if I`m going to get in here to do any work, I had to have him come and meet different codes and all that. I went two or three months, day in and day out, for him to try to meet me back up here. And I never could get him to come up in here. '

Smith sold the house in 2002. The buyer made no repairs. The house was looking worse every day and the demolition money just sat. Elbert's sister Pam Moore realized there was a problem. 'I was going through some of his papers, and asked him what happened with this money and he said oh it`s still out there. Could you please help me get it back? We been going through this five months, but once we got channel 2 involved it went kind of quickly. '
Thimes says the Sylvester Caldwell Administration knew they couldn`t keep the money. 'We were advised through counsel to pay the money back. And not only that, the Caldwell administration believes it`s the right thing, the fair thing to do. Those people deserve that money, it is theirs.'

The house is definitely slated for demolition. The current administration says too much time had passed, and they couldn't legally keep the money. Consumers should keep in mind most municipalities will require a certain amount of money be set aside for demolition following a fire. You want to keep track of that if your insurance policy covers that expense.