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Testimonial from our client in margate, fl

Statement before insurance committee

Mr. Chairman, distinguished legislators, Ladies and gentlemen,:
Thank you for allowing us a voice, and participation, on an issue as important as the protection of most people’s most important purchase, valuable asset, and major life investment against catastrophic events; OUR homes.
My story sadly, is not unique. It was the most traumatic and drawn out process with which my family and I have ever been involved. Recalling it still gives me anxiety and stress. And anger. As illogical as it may sound, to this day, I hope I never have to file another claim for as long as I live.
In 2010, while we were replacing our roof, an unexpected front of storms passed through our area, causing the ceilings in two rooms in our home to collapse, and extensive water damage in most areas of our home. I will never forget those two weekend nights…where my 82 year old mother and I spent the entire night bailing water, raising furniture, and moping the floors, until early morning. Only to do it again the following night, when the ceilings completely collapsed in the sitting room right next to her bedroom, and a bedroom on the other side of the house, with water flowing from those rooms to everywhere in between.
I immediately called my insurer, (Castle Key,) to file a claim. The agent informed me that I was covered, had a small deductible, and to quickly call a dry-out company so as to mitigate any further damage.
I did as instructed, and called Walter Lafreniere’s Company.
We had used Walter’s company before and had been happy with their thoroughness and professionalism. As a result of his excellent work in the past, our home never had mold or damp issues, or odors, which is rare in South Florida.
He came that Monday early, extracted what standing water they could, left blowers running in every room, and then came every day to check for dampness with a meter, and made sure that the blowers were placed and moved correctly. On the first day, before starting the work, he videoed the whole house, the damaged areas, and the areas with standing water. He also notified my insurer that he was there, and they gave him the go ahead to take care of my home.
It took the claims adjuster 10 days to get to my house to assess the damage. Thankfully, Walter was there doing his daily inspections, when he arrived. The adjuster, looked around, took photos of the damage, and spoke with my roofer, who was completing his work on my roof.
This adjuster proceeded to tell Walter to take his equipment, and to leave the premises because there was ‘no claim here’, and to do nothing more! Walter showed him the dampness sensor and told him that if he stopped now, there would be worse damage, and that mold would have the perfect environment to grow, and that he couldn’t take responsibility, or guarantee, an incomplete dry-out. The adjuster said that this was not his problem.
Needless to say, we were speechless, called our agent, and decided to try and resolve these issues in whatever way we could.
In the ensuing months we sent this adjuster, at his request,documentation regarding our roof, the damage list (with photos) to personal property, and the cost to repair the two rooms where the ceilings had collapsed, and the water damage. After months of providing more and more documentation, contractor bids, and after 11 months of delays, our claim was denied.
We ultimately had to retain an attorney to litigate our claim. It took us three additional years to reach resolution. In the meantime, our insurer attacked our truthfulness, our honor, and tried to scare us with threats and innuendo, causing us unimaginable stress, anxiety, and worry.
In addition, my now 84 year old mother had to be temporarily moved to an living facility, at her doctors insistence, because, as Walter had predicted, there was now mold in our home. My mother had started to become ill with life threatening respiratory infections, from this mold. Before the mold, my mother had been a very healthy, mentally sharp, robust and active senior. She was involved in her church, and in two ministries that kept her at meetings and activities 3 days a week. My mother spent a very sad 2 ½ years in that facility, and ultimately passed away there, before we could bring her back home. A year after her death, our insurer finally settled our claim.
If it hadn’t been for Mr.Lafreniere’s documentation, photos, and detailed videos, which were our only tangible independent proof of our loss and damages, we would never have been successful in proving our case. I believe that It forced our insurer (Castle Key) to do the right thing, and resolve this straightforward claim.
It seems that now, these same insurance companies are trying to remove these protections, and these tools, from the consumer.
On behalf of every consumer in our State, and my family, I urge you to please continue to protect our families by not allowing these insurers to disallow video documentation, set illogical limits on damage mitigating services, and reduce claim filing parameters any further than they already have.
It is apparent that we can’t keep these insurers from treating the homeowners like lying criminals, who live to file false claims, but at least we can keep them from eroding our coverage, and ability to file legitimate, claims any further.
By keeping our coverage protections comprehensive and correct, and dependent on the unique nature of each claim, you are protecting the consumer’s most valuable asset; their home. You are also holding the Insurance Industry to a high standard of trust, accountability, responsibility and responsiveness to their insured, as should be their obligation and goal.
This would go a long way in helping to re-establish a more trusting,collaborative and cooperative relationship between the consumers and the Insurance Industry, which, in my opinion, is long overdue.
Thank you. Ana Ruiz