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On the hook for $20,000 in damage

On the hook for $20,000 in damage

By Craig Smith. CREATED Jul 18, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Here's a home catastrophe that could catch up with you.  Are you sure your insurance covers any damage your get?
       
A woman who had sinkhole-style foundation damage to her home thought it was only natural for her insurance to cover it.
        
The company refused.
         
You ask, we investigate, so KGUN9 looked into her case.  

Looking at thousands in damage, Tania Presby remembers how her house---and her life changed in an instant.

"The house just went crack and the house sank."
        
Under her house---water from a broken water pipe undermined her foundation.  She says it'll cost 15 to 20 thousand dollars to fix all the damage and says State Farm---the insurance she's used for 40 years will not cover the cost.

"It's been very disturbing---and I'm 79 years old I can't go out and earn the money to fix this now."
      
State Farm ruled the damage was from shifting earth outside the house and it doesn't cover that sort of damage---ever.

Tania Presby says, "I assumed State Farm would cover this. This is property damage and I have homeowners insurance for property damage."
    
Presby says when she bought her policy the company assured her she would be covered for everything. She concedes she trusted what she heard and did not read everything.
     
We went to her insurance agent.  He referred us to State Farm's corporate PR which will not talk about specific claims like this one.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked State Farm spokesperson Angela Thorpe: "Is there that can be done, just as a courtesy for a longstanding customer in a case like this?"

Thorpe said, "We welcome any additional information from any of our customers to support their claim."
       
The spokesperson went on to recommend reading your policy and reviewing it with your agent once a year but that leaves Tania Presby wondering how she'll repair what she thought would be the last house in her life.

It is a good idea to read your policy but Tania Presby may not be totally out of luck. Researching this story we learned some years ago, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled if you sue and can convince the courts an insurance salesman gave you what's called a reasonable expectation of coverage, you may be able to force your insurance to pay up even if you did not read every bit of your policy.

You ask, we investigate.
    
This story was brought to our attention by viewers just like you..
    
If you have a problem and want us to get involved, just ask--we'll investigate.
    
You can email us: news@kgun9.com or call our 9 on your side line at 290-7726.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press