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TROUBLESHOOTERS: Unexpected insurance hike threatens elderly woman's home

READ MORE: TROUBLESHOOTERS: Unexpected insurance hike threatens elderly woman's home
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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- If your property taxes and insurance are held in escrow, you may want to keep a close eye on it.

A Hampstead woman contacted us on behalf of her elderly mother, who was in danger of losing her home because her homeowner's insurance doubled, and she never knew it.

Even though Pamela Foy's mother Shirley no longer lives in a home in Kinston, Shirley is still making the mortgage payment. In October, when they got their mortgage coupon book, they noticed the mortgage jumped from $651 dollars to $981 a month.

"With mother being in bad health and being an elderly lady, she got upset and started crying," Pamela said. "She said, 'I can't afford the payment.'"

Foy has power of attorney, so she contacted the mortgage company, ERA, to find out what happened.

"They told me they had paid out $3,519.90 to Nationwide Insurance, and that was back in September," Foy said.

Foy thought that was a mistake, because last year's premium was only around $1,700. She contacted Nationwide multiple times to find out why the premium more than doubled, but she says she didn't get anywhere.

"When you call you get put on hold they don't want to talk to you gotta verify who you are, get permission so they can talk to you, you hold 15 to 20 minutes to be transferred to one person to be told you need to talk to someone else," Foy said. "It's frustrating."

Foy says she discovered several things. For the past five years, her mother's homeowners insurance had steadily gone up. So had the coverage amount. And a year and a half ago, when Foy's mother moved, Nationwide never changed the insurance from a homeowner's policy to a dwelling policy.

Hoping the insurance would be straightened out quickly, Foy and her mother only paid the original $651 mortgage for November and December.

"We actually now have been sent a letter from ERA basically saying the house, there's a possibility it could go into default and possibly start the foreclosure process," Foy said.

Meanwhile, Foy kept trying to get a refund check from Nationwide to deposit it into the escrow account. Nationwide made out the check to Foy's deceased stepfather. It took several more weeks to get a new check issued, which put the mortgage even farther behind.

We called both Nationwide and ERA. Within hours, both companies called Foy to work out a solution.

A spokeswoman for Nationwide says there are some inaccuracies in Foy's version of events, but the company cannot give any details because of privacy issues. However, Foy says Nationwide is refunding last year's premium.

She says ERA has suspended any foreclosure action, because the house is under contract. If it doesn't sell, the family has until mid-February to deposit the checks from Nationwide into the escrow account.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Wow

I hear this happen everyday. You can't blame the insurance company for sending a bill and the mortgage paying it like was set up in your contract with the insurance and the mortgage. They legally have to send the renewals out prior to the renewal date, so if you did not open the mail, nor inquire why you did not recieve the new bill, that is not the mortgage nor insurance companies fault. As rates do increase and prices change, you may need to shop companies or make changes, you do NOT have to take the renewal they send you. You are the consumer and have the power to spend your money how and where you want to, so OPEN your mail and if you haven't seen anything from a company in a while, CALL them! You know the bill comes once a year! And oviously someone somewhere did not let the company know there had been a death, or did not comply with the requirements for them to switch the name. (Like send in the power of attorney paperwork...) And guess what, it is ILLEGAL for the company to issue a check with premium money from a policy under the name Bob to a person named Jim. I bet you wouldn't expect that from your bank, would you? Once again, someone is not taking responsibility for themselves and blaming everyone else. The water will not stop running unless YOU turn it off. I understand you have been going through a tough time, but you have ZERO excuse for not stopping the mortgage escrow payment or even knowing HOW MUCH it was for that matter. Come on people, take ownership of your money!

Coastal Insurance Rates

Yikes! I'm moving to FAR western Pender Co. in a few weeks, and this scares the begees out of me! I'd thought about investigating Nationwide since my current insurance Homeowners/auto co., Erie, won't cover anything in coastal counties. I'm not fond of the Farm Bureau's politics, but are they really the best deal around?

Why is this a Big Deal

I hear you say they wouldnt speak to you till they had proof of who you was. I wish every company out there did that, we might have less theft of personal information. Being a real estate agent, I know your home can not be insured thru a Homeowners policy, it has to be insured different and alot of companies I deal with will NOT write vacant homes, cause of the chance of loss.

Good Luck

Nationwide SCAM

This does not surprise me. I dumped Nationwide after a claim was handled with complete incompetence and without any compassion.

home ins.

We had Travelers through Geico for 15 years. When the wind policy became separate around here it doubled ! Rather a surprise because everyone pays the same amount for the wind coverage because its trough the state. We switched to Farmers Insurance and it was a few dollars less than what Travelers charged before they doubled it. Call Farmers in Burgaw.

It's the homeowner's

It's the homeowner's responsibility to notify the insurance company of any changes in their status. If the policy is in both spouses' names and one dies, it must be changed to the surviving person (any refund checks issued to a deceased cannot be cashed).
Once the house is no longer a "residence" and becomes a rental or income producing property, the rate goes up dramatically due to a higher risk of damage, vandalism, fire,etc. hence the large increase.
It was time for the daughter to step in for her elderly mom and make the phone calls or contact the issuing agent/insurance company. There was a new bill in the mail at some point...READ IT...

We know what our

We know what our responsiblity is and we did notify her agent at nationwide the same time we notified ERA however I have a email that was sent by the agency that stated that it was never documented. And the check that Nationwide sent was sent out incorrectly because Nationwide did not do their homework and mailed it to my stepfather which had been dead now three years.And the renewal went to the property which was insured not the correct address for his estate . As far as the daughter stepping in I am her daughter and when I got involved Nation wide would not talk to me for the first month and I had to provide them with a power of attorney before they would talk to me, so stepping in for your parents is not as easy as you make it sound,I did step in and thats when I found out that Nationwide had been paid $3519.00 for this year which lead to these problems, and not only did I find out that they collected and were paid in full for the 2012 insurance Cheer's Agency told me that they do not write dwelling policies and they would cancel the policy Dec 19th 2011. And even though they had been paid already they canceled her policy . So I ask how can you be paid and cancel a policy leaving a home with out insurance coverage and still have the full amount when it was canceled. (Lets not forget they sent a check but it was in the wrong name, so Nationwide still had the funds that had not been refunded correctly.) After reading what you wrote I can see that you know alot about insurance and and rate increases so I ask what insurance company do you work for ? Let me guess Nationwide????

As far as the homeowners

As far as the homeowners responsiblity, We know what our responsiblity is and we did call Nationwide just like we did ERA, however Nationwide did not document the changes back in 2010, and I have a email showing that. As far as the check being made out in the correct name, this issue has been going on for several months and Nationwide should have done their homework before making out a check to someone who has been dead for three years. And when we called about the check being issued in the wrong name it still took them about seven weeks to correct the problem. As far as the bill in the mail Nationwide collected the annual payment from Era in Sept. 2011 for the renewal and sent out the renewal to the home that was insured and not the new address, which still leads to the question of how can you read a renewal that you did not get? As far as her daughter stepping in and making the phone calls, I am her daughter and my mother is elderly yes, but if Nationwide documented the call we she called her agent we would not be going threw this now.And when I got involved Cheers Insurance told us they did not do dwelling coverage and they cancelled her policy on Dec.19 2012 after collecing $3519.00 in Sept. 2011 for the annual. So I say this to you, What's wrong with this picture? and based on your comments about the higher risk and the customers responiblity you must work for a insurance company, Let me guess Nationwide.

I second that comment. Not

I second that comment. Not only check your mail but read your mail! I am sure this family received a renewal billing before the Bank added the increased amount to their billing. Also, most people are aware they are to notify an Insurance company when a person passes away. The policy cannot stay in the name of someone that has died. It sounds as if someone does not want to be held accountable for something she should have been helping her Mother with.

only a A** would second

only a A** would second that. And as far as being held accountable
A**hol* My mom lives with me and it was not anything that I should have needed to help my mother with, She is not the one that died it was her husband and as far as I know she it quite capable of speaking for her self.But I guess you are right to deal with a insurance company like Nationwide even the most capable person needs help.Because unlike their commericals they say they will be with you all the way however they don't tell you how difficult it will be along the way. As I have stated before Nationwide sent the renewal to the insured property and not to the estate address, After they had already collect the full renewal They collect in Sept 2011 and sent the renewal out to wrong address in Oct. So it makes it difficult to read something that has been sent to a location 75 miles away. If anyone should be held accountable it should be Nationwide for not helping my mother.

Doesnt surprise me, last

Doesnt surprise me, last year I wasn't paying attention to my homeowners insurance cause its in my escrow,and i get a letter from the bank saying my house payment was going up by more than 100 per month and when I questioned it I was told that Nationwide had doubled my rate, and was told by Nationwide that I wouldnt find rates any cheaper so deal with it. Well I now have home and auto with Farm Bureau, and Harry Owens in Hampstead smoked the rates from Nationwide for my home and auto and I have more coverage.

Another family that can't

Another family that can't handle their own financial affairs properly, and then whine to the media when it goes south. There should be a minimum competence test that must be passed in order to qualify for a mortgage.

as far as being able to

as far as being able to handle our financial affairs properly we have done that, but Nationwide increased the insurance from $1789.00 a year to $3519.00 a year for the same policy, which caused the escrow to be in the red, so before you pop off your mouth you should know the whole story. Being able to qualify for the mortgage
is not the problem, the mortgage has been in place from 2005 til current, but Nationwide doubled the insurance for 2012 which cause the problem with the escrow. And as far as whinning to the media, It is not whinning it is to inform the public that if you have your insurance in escrow to check you escrow pay out for insurance so they do not end up like my Mom has, and someone on a fixed income having to come up with a extra $331.00 per month to pay their insurance usually causes a hardship. Now that I have said that let me say this. You must be not elderly and on a fixed income or you would understand the importance of this story. If I had to guess you are more than likely a insurance agent that works for Nationwide. and as far as a compentence test the only incompentence here is from Nationwide

You're WAY off the mark with that comment!

While there definitely are an abundance of those you describe, this isn't one of them! If you are competent enough to perform some elementary mathematics, you would see that this ladys mortgage payment increased an unexpected 51% in one year, because of an insurance premium increase of 107%...in one year. That sort of increase has NOTHING to do with the competence level of a buyer, only with an insurance company trying to rip her off. Everyone expects prices to rise, but 107% at one premium renewal? That is absolutey nothing less than highway robbery! A sudden 51 percent increase in a mortgage payment would rasise the brow of ANY homeowner (unless they are simply stupid)!

So here's one back at you, dear Einstein of economics. "There should be a minimum competency test that must be passed in order to keep idiots from posting about subjects here they know absolutely nothing about."

Youre Way Off

Did you every say why the insurance went up.. I had it happen to me one time and its not the insurance companies fault, it was my fire department, they had moved my property out of their boundry so therefore i was not covered by a fire department and in NC our homeowners insurance rates are partial determined by fire department rating.

Are you human?

Maybe you did not comprehend what you read. The article stated ELDERLY!!!!!!! INSURANCE DOUBLED!!!!!!!!!!!! Is this not unfair to our seniors who most likely were employed during their productive years (and some were forced to return to the workforce because of ridiculously low interest rates on CD's IRA's etc.); purchased their homes several years ago, their savings or investment incomes are significantly less due to the economy, and unlike you are struggling on a REDUCED INCOME? Shame on you!!!! Get a life, a heart, and a sense of decency. Did your parents not teach you to respect your elders? Go back under the rock that you crawled out from under (or maybe to the country club to sip another MARTINI) or maybe just go rot in hell. Your days of adversity are coming too ! You will reap what you sew!

You should not make negative

You should not make negative comments about a situation that you obviously know nothing about. Apparently you work for Nationwide.

Legal thieves, homeowners insurance companies.

There isn't a more legal way to steal money from people than those that provide homeowners insurance...especially on the coast...especially on an island. They write their own ticket and you have very few choices. The insurance commission is an absolutely worthless organization to include the commissioner himself.

Somebody has to pay for the view...

Better yet, when a storm does finally come, they will squirm, wiggle and bring out the fine print about what "is not" covered. They will take your money...year after year, but when needed...they SUCK!

I don't see much of a difference between them and the mob...except our government agencies allow it to happen.

Good. check your policy, had

Good. check your policy, had Nationwide in past, change to another insurance company, contacted Nationwide of change, few months later, they billed my mortgage for homeowners insurance. basically paid for two policies. contacted nationwide wouldn't admit their error saying it is your mortgage company. Took me 1 year to get money refunded when again they sent me notice of renewal for second time........ They are crooks if you don't stay on top of themmm