Renters insurance fight for coverage

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PHOENIX - A Phoenix man had renters insurance, but says when a truck crashed into the backyard of his rental home he was left to pick up the pieces.

“It literally sounded like a bomb went off in the backyard,” he said.

That’s how James Feely described what happened at his house on February 25.
It was 1:30 a.m. when a suspected drunk, suicidal man who was under investigation for assaulting his girlfriend came crashing through the back wall and into the pool.
“The whole room was covered in glass and dust,” said Feely as he showed us the mess left behind.
But it was much more than a messy situation.  It was terrifying for Feely because this wasn’t the first time.

“I didn’t want to find another dead body,” Feely said choked up.
Feely and his family were renting the home near Dixeletta and Tatum roads.
The home sits where the street comes to an end and cars are forced to go left or right.
But sometimes the cars go straight. Right into the backyard of the home Feely was renting.
At least once an accident has turned deadly.

“A gentleman was wedged into the wall,” Feely explained to us as we walked near the spot where it happened, “he was in the process of dying.”
When it happened again this past February, Feely said he was horrified.
Making matters worse, he said, his insurance company, State Farm, told him he could continue living in the house.

Mr. Feely said he was told “it might be uncomfortable but it’s not uninhabitable.”
“How many people out there with Renters Policies think, "if something like this happens, they’d be taken care of?”
The Feelys just wanted to move out. Since they had insurance, Feely figured he’d have help doing it.
3 On Your Side reached out to State Farm and immediately they began looking into his case.
Part of the problem was the driver who crashed into the backyard was responsible for damages to the home.
Mr. Feely’s renters policy provided coverage for cleaning of his personal property and additional living expenses to cover costs of a hotel, since they wanted to move.
State Farm worked with 3 On Your Side to get it done.
In a statement a company spokesperson Gus Miranda said:
"We are wrapping up a couple of items with regard to Mr. and Mrs. Feely’s claim. With regard to the concerns you outlined in your previous emails, we believe those have been addressed to the satisfaction of Mr. and Mrs. Feely.

We ask that you discuss the importance of having renters insurance, as well as the importance of talking to an insurance agent about renters coverage and how it works.  During this trying economy more people are renting their residence. According to a survey conducted for the Insurance Information Institute, fewer than three of every 10 renters have renters insurance."

The next time 3 On Your Side visited with the Feelys they were unpacking in their new rental home.
“It’s comforting to know that someone else is there trying to help you get a resolution,” Feely said. “You’ll be able to get your life back to somewhat normal. You’ll be able to put this away, put it in a box and put it in the closet and start from that point forward.”