12 On Your Side: Insurance dispute over water damage in Chesterfield home

Insurance dispute over water damage

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield woman is pleading for help. She says USAA approved her claim and then denied it after she fired their recommended contractor and hired her own. USAA says it had nothing to do with contractors. It says long term leaks dripped overtime and damaged her home, and in such cases, they don’t pay.

I spoke to all sides about this unfortunate outcome. None of the parties involved dispute Yonzhel Mahone stepped in water back on June 19.

She says, “The whole floor was covered with water. It was entering into my hallway into my daughter’s room. I eventually turned the water off and called the plumber out. He cut the four walls out and fixed some pipes up.”

But, that’s all they agree on. The severity of the damages today compared to when the plumbing leak was first reported four months ago is presenting new problems everyday.

She says, “I got two bad bathrooms, mold in my home, now moisture in my home. My kids... they’re ready to come home.”

The single mom says USAA approved restoring her home and wonders why else would they provide hotel accommodations for her family, and assign a water mitigation company to start the work?

USAA’s statement says, in part, that it “prides itself on best in class customer service and they work with members through the entire claims process.”

“Typical homeowners insurance polices”, it says, “provide limited coverage for mold or slow, long-term leaks.”

Mahone maintains it unraveled when she became unhappy with USAA’s recommended contractor, ‘Service Master South of the James.’

She explains, “I didn’t want him in my home anymore after he called the insurance company behind my back. The mitigation company called them and told them I wanted them to be my repair person.”

Company owner Mark Pennington says that never happened, except for dropping off packing boxes and a pod.

‘Service Master South of the James’ says they were not allowed inside the home.

Pennington goes on to say in an email that nearly two weeks after the water damage on June 30, USAA informed them that the homeowner would be using her own contractor.

Mahone says her contractor of choice, TryState Cleaning and Mitigation, was approved and took over July 10. They tore out water damaged materials.

A couple weeks later, she says USAA denied giving TryState permission to demo bathrooms and refused to pay.

Mahone adds, “I want them to fix up my home. They were in bad faith. They told me one thing and they did a whole other thing. They gave them permission to come in. The voicemail states it all.”

TryState’s owner Anthony Huxoll provided me with that voice message, which he says is USAA instructing him to proceed with the demolition and bill USAA directly.

The claim was denied after the demo work was done and after TryState’s report which identified three leaks. One as new- or short-term. Two others described as long-term problems.

USAA did issue a check for roughly $4,200 for a portion of the claim, but said the rest was gradual damage.

The homeowner estimates it will take $30,000 to restore her home.

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