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Bellevue family battles insurance provider for 10 months after devastating fire

Madisonville police and TBI agents responded to the fire on the 1200 block of Lincoln Drive. /...
Madisonville police and TBI agents responded to the fire on the 1200 block of Lincoln Drive. / (MGN)(WVLT)
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 6:33 PM CDT
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When a fire destroys a home covered by insurance we expect a settlement within weeks of the tragedy. But a Bellevue family has waited since last summer for a resolution to their claim.

The charred addition to Troy Gaine’s home has been open to the elements for almost 10 months because State Farm won’t close the claim.

“Just not understanding why they fight us. They don’t give us any explanation they just say we’re under investigation. They’re investigating the cause, they’re investigating us,” said Gaines.

In a letter to the Nebraska Department of Insurance State Farm claims, “All accidental causes have been ruled out,” but that contradicts the State Fire Marshal report that blamed an extension cord. This fire is ruled an accident.

Tiernan Sims, the homeowner’s attorney said, “There’s no reason any insured should have to pay premiums and then fight their own insurance company like this.”

A deadline has passed to approve or deny the claim, but the Department of Insurance gave State Farm an extension to obtain 911 transcripts from the day of the fire.

“If that was so crucial to the case, I don’t know why they didn’t get that 10 months ago,” said Gaines.

A Department of Insurance investigator will contact State Farm next week for an update on the claim decision.

The attorney for the policy-holder says that if State Farm doesn’t settle within about two weeks he’ll file suit, alleging breach of contract and bad faith.

“If it does go to litigation they will certainly wind up paying far more than what the claim is worth,” said Sims.

About $278,000 dollars for home replacement after the fire destroyed the addition Troy was building, plus water and weather damage to the rest of the house.

A State Farm spokesman said, “We have no updates. We continue to work toward a resolution of this matter.”

The family estimates State Farm has paid $30,000 for their hotel costs since the fire last August.