UPDATE: I just got a call from the CEO’s executive team, and the full check is being overnighted! Thank you to everyone that helped. 😀
Anyone that knows me personally or professionally knows that in January our house burned down. Many of you know that we’ve had problems getting our house replaced as well. Oddly, while it would seem obvious to blame the insurance company, in this case Auto Owners (our home owners insurance company, I know, funny name for homeowners) has been amazing. Our problems have been with Chase Manhattan. Let me tell you a story about why there isn’t a house in this photo…
How Insurance Claims On House Fires Work
This process wasn’t something I ever considered before, but it turns out it’s a bit complicated if there is a mortgage on the house that burned. It is a 4 step process:
- The insurance company gets an appraisal of the structure, based on its value just before it actually burned. This is for the dwelling only, not the property, etc.
- The insurance company cuts a check for that amount to the homeowner AND the mortgage company.
- The homeowner endorses the check, and sends it to the mortgage company for them to cash and send back to the homeowner to pay the contractor. In our case, thanks to the crappy housing market, our dwelling appraised for a whopping $65,500.
- Once the house is set, the insurance company cuts another check to the homeowner and mortgage company for the difference in the original check and the actual cost of the house. This is what “replacement insurance” on the dwelling means. I endorse that check, send it to the mortgage company, and they cash and send it back made out to me and the contractor doing the work.
Yes, it’s complicated, but legally that’s what needs to happen. The problem is that Chase won’t release all of the first check to me. Since our house is a modular house, it’s complete when delivered. In fact, my house has been completed for weeks now, and is sitting in a warehouse in Indiana. It can’t be delivered until the contractor has the cash to pay for it.
This might seem hinky. The manufacturer needing COD for a house? But as it turns out, this is the norm. Once the house they built is on private property, they have no legal right to it. So, they insist on getting paid, especially since their job IS done. The problem is that Chase is keeping back half of the first check. This means the contractor (the middleman between me and the housing manufacturer) is expected to pay over $100,000 for a house while only being given roughly $44,000. (See, there was a $12,000 deposit the insurance company paid, plus that first half of the check already sent to the mortgage company).
If people were actually buying houses, the contractor might have enough capital to fund the house while Chase Manhattan dragged their heels. Sadly, no one is buying. No one is building. In fact, here in Michigan, people are moving away because there are no jobs. So that’s what puts us in the current pickle.
- Without the second half of the first check, which Chase Manhattan is holding (and collecting interest on, I’m sure), we are unable to get a house placed on the foundation.
- Without an inspection of the house ON THE FOUDATION, Chase will not release the second check.
See the problem?
Why Chase Manhattan Sucks Like The Tootsie Roll Center of the Galaxy
That was weeks ago. No, really. I’ve been dealing with Chase Manhattan since mid-June trying to figure out a solution to the problem. After hours of phone calls, and supervisors of supervisors, I finally got them to agree to investigate a deviation for us. Mind you, for the past month I’ve been faxing information they requested, getting paperwork notarized (and re-notarized, don’t ask), having my insurance company send explanation letters on company letterhead, etc, etc, etc. Every step takes 48-72 hours. Send a fax? It’s not official for 48-72 hours. Want a call back? 48-72 hours. Waiting for a decision? 48-72 hours.
So now, I’ve reached what seems like the end of my ability. I’ve been the patient customer, holding for literally hours. I’ve been the irate customer, immediately demanding to speak to supervisors by name. I’ve been the annoying customer, and when given a direct line, left multiple messages.
It never does any good. At all. Here is what I’m hoping: That you might help. Lord knows you’ve all helped my family before. I’m only asking here for publicity. If you know someone at Chase, please send them to my blog. If you are on Twitter, please tweet a link if you’re OK with that sort of thing. If you work at Chase, by all means, PLEASE email me. If you are Jamie Dimon, dude, you should know how poorly your company treats its customers.
Here is a list of email addresses. I’m sure they’re not all valid, I just came up with them based on the standard structure for Chase email addresses. They are the names of the company board members, CEO, and some of the managers I’ve spoken with inside Chase. I’m not asking you to email bomb these folks, but feel free to add any addresses in the comments so I can email them as well:
List deleted, since they’ve finally done the right thing!
My house is done. It’s been done for weeks. It would be really nice if the next 48-72 hours actually accomplished something. You have my thanks.