Insurance nightmare for Queens family after house fire

QUEENS (WABC) -- A family in Queens is facing an insurance nightmare.

Their home went up in flames and even though they have coverage, they didn't get a dime from the insurance company.

"This is our first home, all of our lifesavings went into this," Minister Dianna Bryan said.

Now it's all gone. Minister Bryan and his wife Linda say they could salvage nothing.

"Not a stitch of clothing," Linda said.

An electrical fire destroyed their Queens home in April.

"Everything upstairs got ruined, everything downstairs got ruined," Linda said.

The couple filed a claim believing they'd be covered by their homeowner's insurance policy.

The premiums they've paid since 2002 to Castlepoint Insurance, a member of the Tower Group, include the house, garage, personal property and loss of use.

"We have to come up with 7,000 a month to pay mortgage and rent where we are and to date, we haven't had a penny from National General Insurance," Linda said.

A month and a half after becoming homeless, the Bryans were still waiting for any help, they were paying out of pocket for a rental, clothing and food.

"We have to struggle on our own, you know we thought our insurance would have given us an umbrella and it's raining now and they won't open that umbrella," Linda said.

So far, insurance is denying the claim saying the Bryans had a third apartment right through the basement doors when the family was only paying to insure a two-family structure.

The Bryans say at the time of the fire they had a house guest from their church staying with them.

"From time to time we have people from all over the world, friends, and abused women with nowhere to stay," Linda said.

"This is what they're calling an entrance to the basement," said Larry McGrath, a public adjustor. "So that's not a separate dwelling, no."

McGrath is a public adjuster the Bryans hired to help them with their claim. He pointed out the door the insurance company claims was the entrance for the illegal apartment.

Yet insurance says it is four months after the fire denying the claim saying, "On the date of loss the property was not a two family dwelling, rather it is a three-family dwelling...and therefore is not a covered location."

Yet despite this setback, the Ministers Bryan are not losing their faith.

"Without a test we have no testimony, we will come out successfully," Minister Bryan said.

7 On Your Side spoke to National General Insurance, which took over the policy from the Tower Group, it had no comment.

The Bryans plan to file a lawsuit.

New York is one of the few states in the United States that does not permit a claim against an insurance carrier for bad faith. A statute was rejected in Albany last session.

Their attorney says they will sue for "breach of contract".

The minister says he's putting his faith in God.
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