Press Release: Lutz family endures 10-foot hole in the living room for nearly 1 year


DATE: June 7, 2021
Media Contact: James Judge
Tel: 813.279.8335
Email: jpjudge@judgepr.com

Lutz family endures 10-foot hole in the living room for nearly 1 year thanks to USAA, bails gallons of water out home every time it rains

LUTZ, Fla. – A local Tampa Bay area family is still dealing with a 10-foot hole in their living room more than two years after a tornado caused damage to their home due to USAA’s refusal to properly fix the damage, property owners said. 

The 2,600 square-foot Lutz home, owned by John and Maureen Whitlock, was damaged in November of 2018 when a storm ripped through their neighborhood. 

Originally, the Whitlocks thought they had escaped the storm without suffering any damage, but as the next two months wore on, water marks started to appear on their ceiling. That’s when the Whitlocks notified USAA, their insurance company. 

According to the Whitlocks, USAA came out, wrote an estimate, issued a payment, and hired a preferred contractor to fix the damage. The contractor started demolition on May 2, 2019, but left later that day when it started raining. The hole that was created by the contractor in the living room was left uncovered, and the contractor told the Whitlocks that they could not cover the hole they created because they were not authorized to do so by USAA, the Whitlocks said. 

Nearly three weeks later, the same contractor returned to tarp and cover the roof and eventually attempt to begin repairs. However, after getting further into the wall and the ceiling, the contractor notified the Whitlocks that the damage was worse off than they thought and that they could not complete the project for the originally proposed price, the Whitlocks said.  

The Whitlocks then retained David Crosby, the founder of Bay Area Public Adjuster, who got involved to offer a third-party opinion. 

“We use the same exact software as the insurance companies, but we work for the homeowner and make sure that nothing is conveniently overlooked, as is so often the case when the insurance companies send out their adjusters,” said Crosby. “In nearly 20 years of doing this, I have never seen anything like this, where an insurance company has assumed responsibility for fixing the damage and then completely left a family living in the mess for this long, with essentially zero real effort to resolve the situation.”

After retaining Crosby, structural engineers were hired and the inspections revealed that several trusses, which support the roof, were so rotted, that those completing the inspections could physically place their hand directly through the wood without hardly any resistance. 

“Multiple trusses need to be replaced, and while USAA acknowledges this, they have been dragging things out, to the point that the Whitlocks have had to hire an attorney,” said Crosby.

“In November of 2019, we completed mediation and USAA again agreed to fix the problem,” Maureen Whitlock said. “However, nearly two years after completing the mediation, we’re still sitting here with a hole in our home and industrial dehumidifiers running constantly because the home leaks every time it rains.” 

In addition to the water damage, which now runs from one end of the home to the other, the Whitlocks home also has mold developing, according to inspectors. 

“It’s really no place someone should be forced to live,” said Crosby. “I mean, this is exactly what people have insurance for, but in this case, I think it’s indisputable that USAA has completely neglected their clients.” 

USAA was contacted to provide a comment for this news release but unsurprisingly failed to respond to the request.

The case is actively being litigated. “All our clients ever wanted was to get their house fixed,” commented their attorney, James S. Jenkins, III, Esq. “ At USAA’s recommendation, they used USAA’s preferred contractor who made the damage worse. Now, every time it rains, their house is flooded.”

About Bay Area Public Adjuster
Bay Area Public Adjuster was founded in 2016 by David Crosby, an insurance industry expert with nearly two decades of experience. With a team of more than 10 people serving the entire state of Florida, Bay Area PA has recovered more than $15 million for their clients. They help homeowners who are being treated unfairly by their insurance companies and represent the homeowner to provide them with a fair, third-party assessment in an effort to help them get the money they are owed. Bay Area PA will never charge the homeowner for services until the homeowner is paid by their insurance company.