Home Insurer Admits Mistake

Having a trampoline may make it much tougher to get home insurance. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says trampoline injuries caused more than 104,000 hospital visits last year. So insurers fear the added risk of a visiting children being hurt on your trampoline. If their parents sue, the home insurer may have to pay.

Arlington resident Lola Ogunde says her insurer sent her a non-renewal letter because it believed she had a trampoline. But she says she never had a trampoline.

She traces the problems back to an October, 2014 when powerful winds knocked down her fence as well as some shingles on her roof. She called her insurance adjuster.

“He took pictures. He took lots of pictures," said Ogunde.

But the cost of the damage was less than her deductible, so she had to pay for repairs out of pocket. She didn't hear from her insurer again until July when she got this letter of non-renewal.

“I was thinking, ‘They must be joking. What did I do?’ I didn't do anything," she said.

Geico Insurance Agency is the broker for her policy. But Arrowhead General Insurance Agency is the Managing General Agent working on behalf Universal Insurance Company of North America.

Universal’s letter said it had determined she had a trampoline on the premises.

"I never had a trampoline. I've been in my house for 10 years. All my kids are grown," said Ogunde.

But two homes adjoining hers have trampolines. “Perhaps her insurer made a mistake,” she thought.

"I sent a picture of my backyard,” Ogunde said.

But she says she received an unexpected response for her insurer. The letter on Arrowhead’s letterhead reads, "We have received proof the trampoline was removed; however, we decline to lift the non-renewal.”

“I was very angry. I was fuming,” said Ogunde.

She wrote Geico, her insurance broker, and demanded an apology. More than a month later, she got another letter on Arrowhead letterhead. It reads, "I would like to apologize for this non- renewal being sent to you. I have reviewed the photos that were provided during the claims investigation as well as the photos that you provided to us on 09/01/2015 and I am in agreement that the trampoline shown in the original claims report was located on the adjacent neighbor’s property."

But Ogunde says the apology provides little vindication. By the time she received it, er mortgage holder had forced her to buy a policy elsewhere, and her new policy is almost $500 a year more than the old. She wants her insurer to pay back that $500 for this year.

"Then reinstate my policy," said Ogunde.

An attorney speaking for Arrowhead told NBC 5 Responds "…we are actively working with the insured Ms. Lola Ogunde to rectify the matter and ensure that her insurance coverage issues are appropriately addressed and resolved."

Ogunde confirmed that after NBC 5 talked to Arrowhead, she immediately got a call from the insurer. But they have not yet reached a resolution. If you believe an insurer wrongfully cancels during the term of your policy, the law provides consumers more protection than if your insurer refuses to renew an expiring policy. But you do have rights.

For example, your insurer can't use claims as a basis for non-renewal except under certain conditions. Your insurer must notify you in writing 30 days before your policy expires. And if you think insurer violated the law, file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance.

TDI returned $38 million to consumers last year through the complaints process.

More: Texas Department of Insurance Complaint Form | Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Bill of Rights

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