Harvey victim dies waiting for check after fight with insurance company
HOUSTON – For Tom and Tim Morgan, talking about their mother in the past tense is not easy. "She was a happy lady and she loved her family."
Clydine Morgan passed away only eight weeks ago.
The brothers recently reminisced with Channel 2 Investigates about how special the home at 2222 33rd St. was for their family. "Mom and Dad built that house in 1976, and that was their dream home when they built it,” said Tim during a recent interview.
The dream transformed into a nightmare during Hurricane Harvey. Clydine was forced out of the place she loved, according to Tom. "She couldn't live there, obviously. It was flooded and ruined.”
Morgan’s national flood insurance policy was tied to Texas Farmers Insurance. A company out of Florida called Colonial Claims, a Farmers contractor, worked on her case.
Morgan eventually filed a claim for $179.243.19. What happened next? A lot of back-and-forth jockeying that taxed everyone according to Tim. "It was a great toll."
Farmers ultimately offered Morgan $126,370.38 to cover the damage. It is the number she agreed to on Oct. 15, 2018. "When we finally heard of an offer. A proof of loss, she cried,” Tim said.
He said it’s because she was finally seeing the end.
However, the 86-year-old great-grandmother died just over two months later.
She never saw one penny of the settlement with Farmers, "A once-in-a-lifetime event occurs, you expect to be paid. She never saw the payment,” said Tom.
Tim offered up this take: "It's very unprofessional. It's almost criminal."
As destructive as a hurricane can be, the more difficult storm for victims to weather is the battle against their insurance company.
In the weeks and months following Harvey, Channel 2 Investigates began investigating the challenges homeowners along the Gulf Coast faced in being made whole.
Grossly low estimates and nonpayments are common gripes for many we spoke with from Port Aransas to Houston.
Houston-based storm attorney Emily Marlowe says it’s because of "Lack of interest in insurance companies doing the right thing."
Marlowe watched customers reach a dead end with their insurance companies following Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey. In Texas, it’s been primarily with Harvey. Marlowe said, "It's similar behavior."
In the case of Clydine Morgan, Marlowe and her colleagues sent multiple emails to Farmer's legal representatives to let them know they had agreed to a settlement. However, Farmers never responded with a check until after our interviews and days before our report was slated to air.
"It's incredibly unfortunate that Ms. Morgan and her family, her sons, have been victimized like this,” Marlowe said.
Tim says it was a very simple thing to do. “There is no reason for this not to happen. And it should have happened before my mother passed away."
Tom and Tim feel their mother, as loving as she was to so many, was wronged even in death. In their minds, others view her simply as a statistic, according to Tom. "She's a number to these people. She's not to me. Not to my brother, not to the other family members that have known her. She is a special person."
Channel 2 Investigates contacted Farmers Insurance's corporate office in California for comment. In response, a spokesperson provided Channel 2 Investigates with a one-sentence statement, and it’s a simple one: “We decline to comment on matters in litigation.”
Farmers simply does not want to weigh in on this one, and although a check was finally issued to the Morgans, they and their attorney plan to file a complaint.
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