Homeowners Have Stormy Relationship With Adjusters

The sound of hammers echos through many Omaha neighborhoods months after spring storms. Among insurance companies, American Family has 4,500 house claims totaling $42 million but a handful of their customers question why they don't qualify for new roofs when many neighbors do.

April’s hail and June’s wind left behind a stormy relationship between a few homeowners and American Family claims adjusters.

A homeowner tells an adjuster, "Damage has been done and I want my roof replaced." The adjuster answers, "The way American Family is looking at asbestos tile roofs at this time..." The homeowner cuts in, " You're not going to do it?" The adjuster responds, "It is a repair."

American Family agreed to take another look but Rick Bellino and his roofing contractor point out the only difference they see between his and the neighbor’s roof is insurance companies.

Rick Bellino says, "They're arguing with me about repair and replace on this roof when right across the street the whole roof is being replaced."

That’s the same question asked by three neighbors across town in west Omaha. Gary Beller a Pacific Meadows homeowner says, "I find it very odd and unusual that every home around me is getting a new roof and I’m not." Beller says American family did find $63 damage to his roof.

Adjusters say each roof withstands the same storm differently. Ken Muth, American Family spokesman, says, "It depends on the age of the roof, material the slope of the roof, is the roof ventilated." He says company adjusters do what's right for the customer and don't look at what other companies are doing. He says there is an appeal process for customers who don't agree with the adjuster's findings.

After the first adjuster's report, homeowners can request a second opinion, then an engineer’s inspection paid by American Family,
"so you have three separate eyes on that claim," Muth said.

Four homeowners interviewed By Fact Finders are in the middle of that process but say several roofers recommended complete replacement yet American Family adjusters found minimal damage.

Mike Sena, an American Family Customer, says, "They won't listen to the contractors and evidently they're playing by a different set of rules as to what they see as damage."

Neighbor Dave Fulton also an American Family customer, says, "I’m going to write a complaint to the state insurance commission to see if they can help because this isn't right and it’s not fair."

American Family paints a different picture in Pacific Meadows near 160th and Pacific.

The company reports it has 25 claims in that neighborhood. Twelve qualify for new roofs. Six more can receive more than $9,000 in repairs. Another six homeowners have damage less than $8,000. One claim has been denied.

Nebraska’s insurance commissioner offered this advice: consumers can contact the Nebraska Department of Insurance Consumer Affairs Division with inquiries or to file a complaint. Companies are required to give out the department’s contact information when a consumer objects to a denial or partial denial of a claim.

  • A description of the process used can be found in a brochure available here.
  • With regard to roofing complaints, consumers might find this brochure helpful.

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