TROUBLESHOOTERS: Unexpected insurance hike threatens elderly woman’s home
PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — If your property taxes and insurance are held in escrow, you may want to keep a close eye on it.
A Hampstead woman contacted us on behalf of her elderly mother, who was in danger of losing her home because her homeowner’s insurance doubled, and she never knew it.
Even though Pamela Foy’s mother Shirley no longer lives in a home in Kinston, Shirley is still making the mortgage payment. In October, when they got their mortgage coupon book, they noticed the mortgage jumped from $651 dollars to $981 a month.
“With mother being in bad health and being an elderly lady, she got upset and started crying,” Pamela said. “She said, ‘I can’t afford the payment.'”
Foy has power of attorney, so she contacted the mortgage company, ERA, to find out what happened.
“They told me they had paid out $3,519.90 to Nationwide Insurance, and that was back in September,” Foy said.
Foy thought that was a mistake, because last year’s premium was only around $1,700. She contacted Nationwide multiple times to find out why the premium more than doubled, but she says she didn’t get anywhere.
“When you call you get put on hold they don’t want to talk to you gotta verify who you are, get permission so they can talk to you, you hold 15 to 20 minutes to be transferred to one person to be told you need to talk to someone else,” Foy said. “It’s frustrating.”
Foy says she discovered several things. For the past five years, her mother’s homeowners insurance had steadily gone up. So had the coverage amount. And a year and a half ago, when Foy’s mother moved, Nationwide never changed the insurance from a homeowner’s policy to a dwelling policy.
Hoping the insurance would be straightened out quickly, Foy and her mother only paid the original $651 mortgage for November and December.
“We actually now have been sent a letter from ERA basically saying the house, there’s a possibility it could go into default and possibly start the foreclosure process,” Foy said.
Meanwhile, Foy kept trying to get a refund check from Nationwide to deposit it into the escrow account. Nationwide made out the check to Foy’s deceased stepfather. It took several more weeks to get a new check issued, which put the mortgage even farther behind.
We called both Nationwide and ERA. Within hours, both companies called Foy to work out a solution.
A spokeswoman for Nationwide says there are some inaccuracies in Foy’s version of events, but the company cannot give any details because of privacy issues. However, Foy says Nationwide is refunding last year’s premium.
She says ERA has suspended any foreclosure action, because the house is under contract. If it doesn’t sell, the family has until mid-February to deposit the checks from Nationwide into the escrow account.
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