Owners of tornado damaged homes at odds with insurance providers

By Alyssa Donovan

April 21, 2014 Updated Apr 22, 2014 at 11:12 AM CDT

PEKIN, Ill. -- A sign in the yard at 304 Sheridan Street shows just how disappointed Gary Rhoades is with his insurance provider.

"On November 17 we got hit by the tornado. Basically since then it's just been a constant battle,” Rhoades said.

Rhoades' home builder and an engineer estimated more than $160,000 in damage.

His insurance company sent their own engineer and then offered $37,500.

The outside of the house doesn't look that bad, but it's actually when you go inside that there are problems.

The entire house is leaning an inch and a half forward and more than half of the beams in the attic are broken.

"The walls need to be stripped. I want to make sure the wiring is safe and everything there could be broken wood in the walls and they don't want to acknowledge that,” Rhoades said.

The solution from Auto-owners Insurance is to simply patch all of the damage which Rhoades' attorney says is completely unacceptable.

"Our engineer, the city of Pekin and our builder are all saying this thing needs to be taken down to the studs and the insurance company is saying to just do some facial repairs, nothing structural and then they want our client to live there and that's just unacceptable,” said Attorney Fadi Rustom.

A representative from Auto-Owners insurance sent us a statement saying "Payments have been made to the Rhoades and we continue to work with their attorney to resolve differences in accordance with their policy."

Right now Rhoades is working to get another opinion on the structural damage. He can file a lawsuit within a year but he hopes it doesn't come to that.

"We just want it to be safe,” he said.

Rhoades' attorney says that since the tornadoes hit in November, his firm has handled about 10 cases like this one.

He said it is unfortunate these tornado survivors are becoming victims all over again.

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