‘I’m so lost’: black homeowners struggle to get insurers to claim

Mr. Young, the seller hired by State Farm to repair the house of Mrs. Burgess, has seen insurers weaken and blackmail other black customers on their behalf – although his Los Angeles-based business, Valley Green, which specializes in repairing damaged homes, relies on insurers for business.

He fought on behalf of Langston Phillips, who nearly lost his home during a fight with his insurer, Pacific Specialty. Three years ago, Mr. Phillips’ kitchen was flooded after a pipe burst and destroyed parts of his three-bedroom house in Inglewood. A regulator from Pacific Specialty has determined that the company Mr. Phillips owes just over $ 11,000 in repair costs. Mr. Phillips’ contractor said his home needed much more extensive repairs.

Pacific Specialty het Mr. Young asked to look. Mr Young determined that the repairs would cost more than $ 33,000. A fight ensued, with Mr. Young joining Phillips, although he was appointed by Pacific Specialty.

As a result of the dispute, even the amount that Pacific Specialty has agreed to pay Mr. Paying Phillips, increasingly reaching out to him and forcing him to go to a single hotel room with his two children while he waited for his kitchen to be rebuilt. On a particularly bad day, he emailed a representative of the Pacific Specialty and pleaded for clarity on when some of the money would come. “I AM SO LOST,” he wrote.

“We strive to pay claims as quickly and fairly as possible to bring the insured back to their standard of living before loss,” said Pacific Specialty General Counselor Kara Holzwarth. “We find that loss of water leaks can be accompanied by disagreement.” She said that Pacific Specialty’s treatment of Mr. Phillips had nothing to do with his race.

After two years of fighting, Mr. Phillips threw up rope. Concerned about the loss of the home, he moved in again and started working weekends to pay for repairs – he replaced cabinets, floors and plumbing – which he did himself. “I’m tired of bones,” he said.

Mr. Young, meanwhile, noted that most insurers are not willing to work with him. He is now suing 17 insurance companies, one by one, for discrimination after the companies refused to add him to their sales lists. He has reached a confidential settlement in his case against Travelers and complaints are pending against others.

“I’m the only one who rattles the cages,” he said, “and said, ‘Why don’t you give sellers in minorities?’

Niraj Chokshi reported.