NewsTeam 10 Investigates


‘You feel powerless’: North County couple tries to recoup thousands from insurance after home floods

Expert says homeowners should wait for adjuster visit before hiring anyone
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Posted at 1:30 PM, Feb 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-02 23:57:48-05

VISTA, Calif. — A North County couple says they’re learning just how challenging it can be to get reimbursed from an insurance company after a flood.

Karen and Phil Whisnant hired Pro Service Insulation last fall to replace material in their attic. The couple said a worker hit a sprinkler during the project, leaving their remodeled home with tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

“It's been a very very difficult journey. We've never had anything happen like this,” Karen said in an interview with Team 10.

The Whisnants filed a claim with AmTrust Financial, the insurer for Pro Service Insulation, and said they took out a loan to cover mounting bills.

In November, the couple estimated their costs and requested $246,000 as a one-time cash payment.

Insurance broker Karl Susman said homeowners should wait for an adjuster's assessment before initiating repair work after a flood. He also mentioned the importance of promptly contacting the insurance company after a flooding incident.

“They want to know what happens right away so that they can perhaps take steps to prevent further damage and they can get involved in trying to correct the problem and get the repairs done," he said.

In this case, the couple wanted to avoid filing a claim with their insurance company altogether and go through Pro Service’s provider.

“I was extremely hesitant to call my State Farm agent and file a claim with my homeowner’s policy because of the issues that we have here in California with insurers dropping people,” Phil said.

However, as their total bills neared $120,000, the Whisnants face uncertainty regarding AmTrust's reimbursement. “You feel very powerless,” said Karen.

AmTrust Financial told Team 10 that its claim team has worked diligently to investigate the matter and recently inspected the couple’s home.

“We look forward to reaching an amicable resolution with Mr. and Dr. Whisnant,” the company said in a statement.

Pro Service Insulation attributes the incident to a fire sprinkler system fault, a claim disputed by the couple.

"We are a family-owned company, and we work extremely hard to have good relationships and happy customers,” Kelsey Brown, of Pro Service wrote in an email to Team 10.