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Storm Damage Fustration Doesn't End With the Storm

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POSTED: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - 6:31pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 1:12am

Some people know all too well the frustration of storm damage. But sustaining the damage usually isn't where the frustration stops.

"When I finally picked up my son and got home I couldn't believe the damage," said Victoria Soto, whose home sustained thousands of dollars in damage due to last year's violent hail storm. "It really looked like a hurricane had come through."

It's been ten months since the hail storm, but it's also taken ten months to see the check from her insurance company.

"I had never been through a hail storm before so I didn't think about all of the insurance costs, and waiting for the money," she said. "It hadn't occurred to me."

Soto's mortgage company, Rocky Mountain Mortgage, held onto the check because the damage was extensive--and expensive. Before giving the homeowner the money, Rocky Mountain Mortgage requires a letter from the contractor saying they won't put a lien on the house when they don't receive payment immediately. President Dean Inniss said there's two reasons for that.

"From the customer's standpoint where a roofing company may come, take the money, and never complete the work," he said. "And secondly, to make sure the work actually gets done from the consumer."

But not all contractors agree to hand over that lien letter. Inniss said it takes extra paperwork before they can get paid. Soto ended up paying in the end.

"We had to pay over $3000 out of pocket that we didn't have," she said.

Inniss said there are several ways to make sure you don't end up in Soto's shoes.

"Get several estimates, secondly feel comfortable with the contractor that you're dealing with check out their reputation," Inniss said.

Most importantly, find a contractor that won't make you pay up front. Inniss also suggests you bring the contractor with you to your mortgage company to sign the lien letter in person--something Soto didn't know she could do.

"We had to make 100% of the repairs for the house before they would inspect it and release the rest of the money but we didn't have the money to make those repairs and to me that doesn't make any sense," Soto said.

"It was absolutely frustrating," she said.

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