Blount County woman waits 6 months for insurance payout after fire

Hanah Lopes

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — After six months of waiting, a Blount County grandmother is finally getting money from her insurance company to pay damage claims after a fire at her home.

Sherry Donahue, who has four grandchildren living with her, has racked up quite a few expenses, paying for lost belongings and repairs, as she struggles to make her mobile home livable again. Her bedroom caught fire on October 28 last year, while she and her grandkids were away. Blount County investigators ruled the fire as “accidental.”

“I kept my window cracked. Apparently, what the deputy said, the cat jumped on the nightstand to go out the window. It knocked the lamp on the bed here and that’s what caught on fire,” said Donahue.

“Well, when we got here there was fire coming out of the window. Once they put out the fire everything inside the house was black,” said Nayeli Vasquez, Sherry’s granddaughter.

Donahue and her grandchildren were unable to live in the damaged mobile home until just a few weeks ago. Her insurance company, Encompass, paid temporary living expenses while the house was being cleaned up, but there was no “payout” for contents.

“I don’t care about my stuff it’s the stuff for my kids. Because I live on disability, but four of my kids are disabled,” said Donahue.

At $550 a year, Donahue purchased renters insurance through Encompass several years ago. Donahue showed us things inside the house that have not been fixed. After buying tools, she and some of the older kids started repairing the ceiling and other parts of the house themselves. Recently she bought a new rug and furniture and paid for it out of her own pocket. She estimates that she has spent around $20,000 from her own pocket for repairs.

“My grandmother, she has always bought us everything that we needed. She is on disability, she tries her best to get us everything we need. And with this, the fire, she’s been having to replace everything. It’s been hard for her to make home repairs and replace everything that we lost,” said Vasquez. “Personally, we lost all our clothing, shoes and stuff. So we had to work our way back up from, like, zero.”

Donahue said she’s called her insurance company many times to find out what was happening with her claim but did not receive an answer.

“I call them, I’ve called many times. Even talked to his supervisor and nothing,” said Donahue.

One day after WATE reach out to Donahue’s insurance company, she said her adjuster at Encompass called telling her he’s cutting a check to pay for the damages. While it is $5,000 less than what she hoped for, she’s pleased the issue is finally settled.

If you have homeowners or renter’s insurance and there is a loss to your personal property, notify your insurance provider first, then prepare an inventory of lost or damaged items. If possible, take pictures or video. Also, verify the loss by identifying the cause, you would get that from a fire investigator.

https://www.wate.com/news/blount-county-insurance-claim-delay/

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