Hurricane Sandy victims fight for insurance money

Seven On Your Side
March 8, 2013 2:24:54 PM PST
Frank and Pat Scala's home of 30 years is a waterlogged wasteland, but now the Scalas are battling their mortgage company, not Mother Nature.

"It's awful. You feel like you're held hostage you just have no control," Pat said.

Late last year the Scalas got nearly $100,000 from their flood insurance. It's customary that the check had to be endorsed and cashed by their mortgage company, Bank of America. Months ago, Bank of America sent out its first installment to the Scalas - 20-thousand, but where's the rest?

"I mean, I need the money so I can fix my house so I can get back in. It's just simple. I mean, plain and simple," Frank said.

Frank says in the last month and a half B-O-A's only issued a small check for $997, a fraction of what's needed.

"It was an insult is what it was. An insult," Pat said.

With no money coming in, the Scalas can't pay the contractors and renovations stopped.

"It's infuriating. There has to be better insurance reform. They can't have the banks hold up your money fighting with insurance to get it. First of all, they don't give you enough to repair your house, then you fight with the mortgage company holding up your money like it's theirs, Frank said.

The Scalas say they begged, but Bank of America wouldn't budge, citing other storm victims of Hurricane Katrina who didn't make repairs and took the insurance money and ran.

"I've got a small mortgage. It would be insane for me to do that, insane! I would sell my house before that and get 10x more than that," Pat said.

So we called the lending giant, and just days later, the work resumed at the Scala's Staten Island home. Bank of America released another $20-thousand, enough to finish the electric, buy wood and lay the floors.

"When you guys stepped in and reached out to Bank of America, two days later we get the check for 20,000," Frank said.