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Storm-damaged Wichita rental house is subject of insurance dispute

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013, at 4:59 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Sep. 26, 2013, at 11:48 a.m.

Frustration over an insurance claim filed for a storm-damaged house led Michael Andra to grab some red paint and plywood.

He painted the message – “Farm Bureau Hasn’t Paid Loss of 6-22-13” – on the plywood and placed the sign in the front yard of a rental house he owns at 2901 W. Maple.

That was in reference to a claim Andra filed on his homeowners policy with Farm Bureau after the June 22 storm ripped Wichita with 80 mph winds.

At the house on Maple, just west of Meridian, the storm split a large silver maple tree in the front yard and slammed an 80-foot section of the tree on the house, punching a hole in the roof’s front and back and creating structural damage, Andra said.

Problems arose when Andra and the insurance adjuster couldn’t agree on what damage was caused by the storm.

On Aug. 7, Andra put the sign in the yard along one of the city’s busiest residential streets. People driving by have taken notice, including a Farm Bureau agency manager who took a picture of the sign on Sept. 10.

“Surprising what a half-sheet of plywood will get you,” Andra said.

The claim, however, still hasn’t been settled.

Nancy Doll, a vice president with Farm Bureau’s home office in West Des Moines, Iowa, said her company received 2,169 claims from south-central Kansas as a result of the June 22 storm and that 96 percent of those have been closed.

“Customer service is our highest priority,” Doll wrote in an e-mail Wednesday, “and we are doing everything we can to resolve this claim with Mr. and Mrs. Andra.”

Andra and his wife, Tina, received a settlement offer of $47,950 dated Aug. 28, but they have rejected that offer. They said they have two bids stating it will cost more than $70,000 to repair the home.

Farm Bureau also offered $1,500 to remove the tree and put a tarp on the roof until the work can be done, but Andra said he’s also turned that down.

His policy is for $65,000, with a $2,000 deductible, Andra said. He wants the full $65,000, which would leave him paying the difference.

On the same day that he put the sign up, he also filed a complaint with the Kansas insurance commissioner’s office.

The dispute revolves around what damage was caused by the tree falling on the house. Farm Bureau agrees there was damage to the roof and other areas of the house, Andra said, but the company doesn’t want to pay for damage to the guttering, roof to the detached garage and basement walls.

The basement walls are the big-ticket item.

Andra said the 1930 bungalow had cracked walls in the basement when he bought it for a rental property in 2005. But he said he put a heavy coat of special paint over those cracks so he could tell if the walls cracked more.

“That didn’t happen until the tree came crashing down on it,” he said. “It cracked the walls. The house needs to be jacked up to be fixed.”

A Farm Bureau adjuster came out within a week after the storm and verbally told him the house was a total loss, Andra said. But an adjuster assigned later to the claim wouldn’t rule it a total loss, based on a third estimation, he added.

Time marched on, and the sign went up.

“Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the results,” Andra said. “We wouldn’t have gotten this far without the sign.”

Another storm in July caused significant damage to outbuildings and equipment at the Andras’ farm in Sumner County. Farm Bureau also has the policy on the farm and quickly paid $300,000 on claims that have been processed so far on that damage, Andra said.

“Everyone I’ve dealt with at Farm Bureau on the farm damage has been above board and totally fair,” he said. “We just want the same for our house. I don’t want any more or less than we’re owed.”

His tenant, who wasn’t injured when the tree crushed the roof, still stays at the house.

The Andras brought in a crane to remove the tree and had some of the tree hauled off. A large length of the trunk remains on the ground next to the sign.

In an e-mail from his Farm Bureau agent dated Sept. 11, the agent wrote: “Any idea when you might be taking down the sign in the yard on the maple house? My manager saw it yesterday. She just wanted an idea of when you would be taking it down.”

Tina Andra responded, stating that her husband said “the sign will stay up” until Farm Bureau pays for all damages.

“End of story!” the response concluded.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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