Woman calls 12 for help over flood insurance dispute

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Kathryn Boltz was in tears the first time I talked to her. FEMA determined her house sits in a flood zone. Her mortgage company, Suntrust, subsequently required her to buy flood insurance and it imposed deadlines and a price tag Kathryn couldn't possibly meet. All without even seeing the property.

"If it is going to flood, this area down here will get some water in it, but the house is way up on top of the hill," said Kathryn.

Kathryn's house is a lot higher than flood water would ever reach. It's there, atop a hill. Even Caroline County, Kathryn says, is listing her home outside the flood zone.

"Show you the steepness of the elevation of the house sitting up on the hill," she said.

But FEMA's designation placing her property in Flood Zone A, the worst, triggered a barrage of paperwork from mortgage company Suntrust. $1,600 for an elevation survey, which she paid, but it would take FEMA 60 days to process it. Suntrust wanted it done in 45. So Suntrust told her to buy a temporary flood policy for $2,300.

"Suntrust said 'Well you better pay it because you will be fined and we can cancel your mortgage'. What do you mean? Just because you think I need this insurance, you're going to cancel my mortgage," said Kathryn.

She then got another letter: $900 would be added to her monthly mortgage payment, until the insurance is paid. All this without a single person ever stepping foot on her property.

"There's no way I could come up with an extra $900 a month," she said.

We called Suntrust and FEMA repeatedly. Neither would talk specifically about Kathryn's predicament but, each blamed the other. Suntrust said it was following a government mandate and FEMA said mortgage companies know maps can be amended and flood insurance waived.

"Diane called, the next day and I got an extension and then on Monday I got a letter, they are no longer going to require the flood insurance on my property," Kathryn said. "I'm very appreciative and grateful for Channel 12 helping me out"

Homeowners having a similar problem with their mortgage company can get some answers online at FEMA's website. Suntrust didn't tell us directly, about the resolution, because of privacy reasons.

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