Cautionary Tale For USAA Homeowner's Insurance Policyholders; My 4-Year Struggle to Get Policy Benefits

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Background Information and Summary: 

House destroyed by fire on February 8, 2015. We received our final personal property claim payment on February 4, 2019. We invested over 1,500 hours correcting adjuster mistakes and oversights. To say the personal property insurance adjuster's physical inventory was "wholly inadequate" is far too generous. Our family of four (we have two teenage girls) lived in a five-bedroom, five bath house with over 4,500 sq. ft. of livable space for over 15 years. The adjuster's Inventory Report listed a meager 521 items. This ridiculously low number – even after taking into account the fire – reflects gross negligence or incompetence on the adjuster's part, neither of which is acceptable. Receipts submitted for reimbursement, on numerous occasions, were not reviewed and paid for over 1,000 days! 

 

Ms. Stroud, the personal property adjuster, omitted or misrepresented far too many items to list, but these stand out:

Inventoried a grill cover on the Deck, but did not include the grill;

 

   + Overlooked a stove, a half dozen uninstalled kitchen cabinets, and two large rolls of carpet foam in the Concrete Room;

   + Overlooked a treadmill and 70” TV cabinet console in the Exercise Room;

   + Misrepresented and materially understated the value of several Hickey Freeman and Nordstrom suits by $1,000 per suit and instead claimed they were $250 tuxedos (don’t own a tuxedo);

   + Failed to inventory Tumi brand luggage, Brooks Brothers clothing and a half-dozen Coach and Brighton purses in the master bedroom walk in closet, which were specifically pointed out to Ms. Stroud during our walk-through;

   + Soot remained completely undisturbed on handles of several dresser drawers in two bedrooms after your investigation. It’s impossible to inventory the contents of these drawers without inspecting them; and

   + Close to a dozen pieces of furniture from Thomasville not identified in inventory; in some cases replacement items listed at 50% or less of actual replacement cost;

 

Ms. Stroud, blatantly mistated the facts about inaccessibility of the garage so she could avoid conducting an inventory of the area with the most items (we used it as storage space, so ~30 boxes of items were present). Ironically, she took pictures of the area proving she could access the area. We spent over 1,500 hours correcting inventory, reimbursement, and related errors and doing work for which USAA was responsible. Ms. Beegle offered to send someone to inventory the garage only after the house was demolished. Receipts we submitted for reimbursement took over 1,000 days to process - and even then there were errors (again, in USAA's favor).  Finally, I possess documented evidence - ironically supplied by the same adjuster who took pictures inside the garage but claimed it was locked - proving USAA violated the Fair Claims Settlement Practices Act. This took place under the watch of Ms. Jessica Beegle, CPCU, Claims Service Manager, who offered excuses for Ms. Stroud's transgressions.

 

Below is the letter I wrote to Ms. Beegle, the Claims Service Manager, regarding the processing of our claim . As demonstrated by the date of the final payment - four years after the claim was opened - she did very little to expedite processing of our claim so we could move past the tragedy of losing our home and items of sentimental value.

 

                                                                                                             December 18, 2017

Claims Service Manager
USAA Large Loss Operations Tampa, FL

 

Ms. Beegle, 

 

We need your help to resolve our Personal Property claim. Last year your assistance contributed to a significantly more efficient process, which we greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, the impact was short-lived as Ms. JoAnne, the adjuster, no longer adheres to your clarifications on the claims process and as a result the situation deteriorated to the point it’s almost unbearable.

 

Ms. JoAnne  shows little interest in working toward a fair and equitable resolution of our claim. Our concerns, requests and questions often go unanswered, needlessly prolonging this process and making it virtually impossible to move forward. Her responses are rarely thoughtful, informative or helpful. For example, in her December 12, 2017, comment she claims the need to “update the payment tracker [to reflect additional receipts provided] and submit it to our legal department to see if I can release additional funds after the policy’s two year deadline.” Not surprisingly, she’s provided no follow-up. This empty threat shows Ms.JoAnne failure to grasp the seriousness of the situation she’s placed herself and USAA in as well as her level of indifference – through actions and words – as to how, when or if this claim is resolved.

 

Receipts for LKQ replacement items submitted over 30 months ago need to be properly and completely processed as soon as possible. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Ms. JoAnne claims, “Everything pertaining to the actual receipts your [sic] submitted, has been added.” However, a review of twenty-nine receipts shows over half the replacement items submitted to USAA are still unpaid.

 

A revised supplement in an easy-to-process format (most with URLs containing descriptions and prices) will arrive in the near future. These items need to be promptly, accurately and completely processed. Ms. JoAnne careless manipulation of the “Advance Payments” account by inflating it 145% or $36,214 that offset the Outstanding ACV Settlement due on the 11/13/17 Payment Tracker must also be corrected.

 

Key Issues and Areas of Serious Concern:

 

Supplement Items Excluded: On February 8, 2017, we turned in a supplement with the hope most of our hard work was done. We were greatly disappointed to learn we were wrong. Our supplement contained approximately 1,500 line items; however, Ms. JoAnne excluded 74% of them from the Payment Tracker report without notification or explanation, adding only 391 of them. USAA’s Claims Communication system failed to print the uploaded supplement completed using Excel in landscape layout, making it challenging to read. Nonetheless, all items were clearly identifiable. While it’s true producing the supplement was slow, we provided over 1,500 line items she overlooked - almost three times the number in her initial inventory report.

 

Failure to Process Receipts: Receipts for LKQ replacement items submitted June 23, 2015, remain unpaid. Ms JoAnne. admits in a November 13, 2017, message, “We approved a total of $4,395.56 which was paid in full (?) since you spent $6,177.90.” Illogical, contradictory statements like this are disturbingly not uncommon and, when combined with her factual inaccuracies along with material misrepresentations, makes any progress extremely challenging. Furthermore, Ms. JoAnne erroneously believes my policy covers replacement at today’s prices and not the price at the time of loss (November 13, 2017). This is relevant primarily for technology items destroyed or damaged in the fire. Finally, Ms. JoAnne  refuses to explain the reasons for denying 52% of the items on receipts submitted but not reimbursed.

 

Unreasonable Documentation Requirements: Ms. JoAnne  sent us a Payment Tracker report after repeated requests for information on the specific items covered by each payment. The first thing that jumped out at us were notes – not present on previous Tracker Reports – following many supplement items such as, “Please provide photo and original receipts” or “Please provide the location of this item in the room.” It struck us that if we had not asked for payment details we never would have known of these notes. Let that sink in for a moment.

 

We’re desperately working to get through this horrible reimbursement process and then – by accident – we learn of new documentation requirements after demolition of the house. Unbelievably, a majority of these requests are for “items in question” in the Garage that Ms. JoAnne  failed to inventory and items she carelessly overlooked. Why are we required to provide additional information for items she missed and in areas the she failed to do her job?

 

Also, all physical, original receipts were completely destroyed in the fire. Digital photos of a majority items destroyed were stored on laptops or external hard drives corrupted or consumed by the fire, damaged by water, or both.

 

Regardless, how many people take pictures of their ink pen refills, home security sensors, computer connection cables, lima bean garden seeds, or firewood rack? (“Please provide photos and original receipts” on Nov. 13, 2017, Payment Tracker report for these specific items)

 

Inexcusable Inventory Report: Missing small items on occasion is not unusual when working on a task of this magnitude. Overlooking a larger item, such as a treadmill, could be understandable and attributed to human error. Ms.JoAnne , however, failed to include over a half-dozen larger items (see Exhibit “A”), overlooked about 1,500 items, and materially misrepresented and significantly undervalued hundreds of items.

 

Our family of four (we have two teenage girls) lived in a five-bedroom, five bath house with over 4,500 sq. ft. of livable space for over 15 years. Many items after the fire remained identifiable since soot, heat and/or water accounted for over 80% of our losses. Ms.  JoAnne Inventory Report was a meager 521 items. Can you imagine a house of this size with so few items? This ridiculously low number – even after taking into account the fire – reflects gross negligence or incompetence on her part, neither of which is acceptable.

 

Reconciliation of USAA Payments and Items: After an incompetent inventory of our items, an unexplained denial or omission of 74% of our supplement line items, inaccurate claims all receipts were processed, combined with numerous instances of her factual inaccuracies (see Exhibit “B”) we decided to review every Personal Property payment, item-by-item and check-by-check. Unquestionably inaccurate data in the “Payment Worksheet for Content” of the November 13, 2017, report (see Exhibit “C”) reiterates the importance of this audit.

 

I believe when spoke last year you mentioned it was unclear how to fix the inventory problem. I think a reasonable approach, as mentioned previously, is add the items from our reformatted supplement and pay a reasonable ACV until we provide the receipts to release depreciation. Additionally, we need a way to reconcile every payment USAA issued with the losses covered on an item-specific basis.

 

Ms., this has been a long struggle for my family. We had to deal with this ineptly managed situation while coping with our own issues related to destruction of our home. We want this to end quickly and move on.

 

A response within the next few days would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

John Axxxxxxxxxxxx

Exhibit “A” – Numerous Instances of Liberties Taken with the Truth, Material Misstatements of Fact, and Disingenuous Attempts to Mislead or Deceive

 

Instances of blatant fiction posted by Ms.JoAnne  on the USAA Claims Communication Center – frequently related to covering up failures to conduct a reasonably thorough inventory or processing this claim in good faith – are unexplainable by simple, honest mistakes.

 

This, combined with frequently ignoring requests for information or clarification, further undermine what little confidence I have in what Ms. JoAnne  produces and reinforces the need to audit and reconcile her numbers.

 

Specifically, her false or misleading statements during the inventory and reimbursement process includes:

 

  • September 14, 2016: Ms. JoAnne  informed Ms.  she didn’t inventory the garage because, “[She] was under the impression that it was being used as storage since it was closed up during her inspection.” Photos taken the day of her inspection reveal the garage was not only open, but also safely and easily
    1. How did she know, “Only 2-3 boxes in the garage… were deemed salvageable” (April 28, 2015) if the Garage was “closed up” during her inspection?
    2. A two-car garage used for storage would contain a considerable number of items to be inventoried. Why didn’t Ms.  JoAnne ask me to open it so she could complete her inspection?
  • July 6, 2016: In a letter sent to me  JoAnne knowingly misrepresented a relevant policy provision stating, “You may submit a supplemental Personal Property list for consideration, but the settlement would be at Actual Cash Value rather than Replacement Cost as noted in the Policy language referenced above.”
    1. Incredulously, the “Policy language referenced above” is not related to Personal Property coverage at all. It’s in the section regarding coverage for the
    2. Also, even if it were in the correct section, the cited policy section is irrelevant and doesn’t support her position.
    3. It’s difficult to characterize this action as anything other than simply acting in bad faith during the claim settlement process.
       
  • November 21, 2017: “The request for additional information [e.g., Photos, original receipts, additional product info and the location of items in the house] is not new.”
    1. Some of the information Ms. JoAnne requested could’ve been obtained if she conducted a reasonably thorough inventory or made her request prior to demolition of the
    2. Please explain why the November 13, 2017, Payment Tracker contains numerous information requests that were not present on the October 24, 2016 report. This appears to contradict your assertion the, “Request for additional information is not ”
    3. Please indicate the date(s) you asked for photos, original receipts, additional product info and the location of items in the house. The absence of anything supporting your claim, especially since communications are electronic, means your request for additional information is definitely “new,” despite your claim to the
    4. It’s not possible for me to provide supporting information or documentation for every item destroyed in the fire you failed to inventory. Therefore, it’s not only impossible for me to satisfy every request, but it’s unreasonable to ask that I do
  • September 14, 2016: Ms. posts a comment that, “JoAnne just mentioned she has found a list of electronics – there are no estimated pricing but she is going to work on a second supplement for those items.”
    1. The reality is Ms.JoAnne  misrepresented the items as a “list of electronics” with “no estimated pricing” to excuse her failure to add it to the supplement (I provided the list to you almost 500 days earlier) on a timely basis. After all, how could you add items to the inventory if it was a bunch of electronics that were hard to identify and had no estimated pricing?
    2. However, the truth is a mere 10.1% of items on the list are categorized as electronics. Furthermore, it contained detailed descriptions along with pricing information. I never received that “separate supplement for those ”
  • November 21, 2017: “The request for additional information on the items you submitted February 7, 2017… was sent to you when we issued the payment for the supplement back in ”
    1. A review of the correspondence in June reveals no request for information was made in June. USAA sent the only message that month and indicated, “A payment of $19,940.26 was issued 06/16/2017 to ANGELYN A********* and JOHN A************ for your property ”
    2. Please provide me a copy of this June correspondence. I don’t deny the possibility you sent it, but because of a technical error it didn’t reach me. However, when combined with so many other documented examples of untruthful statements, it appears to be common practice for you to fabricate facts making it difficult to
  • September 14, 2016: “[JoAnne] advised me that your deductible of $5,000 was applied to your contents portion which is why there was a lag on depreciation being ”
    1. Another untruthful statement contradicted by the facts to excuse an oversight by Ms. JoAnne
    2. Over $50,000 in payments were issued prior to the date of this message. Why wasn’t the deductible of $5,000 taken out of one of those payments?
    3. Regardless, this doesn’t excuse the failure to release depreciation for $30,000 in receipts provided June 23, 2015. No explanation for denial of payment other than repeating the claim payment was made, which is contradicted by the

 

Moderators note: Post has been edited due to Member Community posting guidelines

 

1 REPLY

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Thank you for sharing your concerns. I have escalated this to a subject matter expert to review further. They will be following up with you in the next 1 to 2 business days.