News 6 'Gets Results' for storm victim

Insurance company agrees to replace hail-damaged roof

OVIEDO, Fla. – After a severe hail storm pounded Seminole County in May 2015, Patrick Schmidt assumed his home had withstood the ice pellets that fell all over his neighborhood.

It was not until nearly a year later that Schmidt discovered water seeping through his roof.

[WEB EXTRA: Insurance Bill of RightsConsumer Guide to Homeowners Insurance I Mediation Information

“There were three leaks inside the house. One in the kitchen, one in the living room and one in my daughter’s room,” Schmidt said. “I definitely thought it was a little strange we had three leaks happening at the same time.”

According to Schmidt, four different roofing companies that inspected his home gave the same assessment.

“Every one of them kept saying, 'You have severe hail damage,'” Schmidt told News 6. “They said, 'You can’t repair this roof. It needs to be replaced.'”

Schmidt contacted his insurance company, Tower Hill Insurance, which sent out an adjuster to evaluate the roof.

To Schmidt’s surprise, the insurance company would not cover the cost of a full roof replacement.

Instead, Tower Hill agreed to pay just $1,932 to repair the existing roof, insurance records show, a fraction of the cost of a new roof.

Around the time Schmidt received a check from his insurance company, he discovered several of his neighbors, including one right next door, were receiving full roof replacements due to damage caused by the 2015 hail storm.

“I was not comfortable accepting that check, so I called (Tower Hill) and asked for another appraisal to be done,” said Schmidt.

A second roof evaluation conducted by William John Associates found even less hail damage than the first appraisal.

“Repairs can be made by a qualified roofing repair professional for an approximate cost of $100 to $150,” stated the report.

“I was furious, and I’m a very calm individual,” said Schmidt. “I couldn’t make sense of it.”

According to Schmidt, Tower Hill Insurance did not ask for its original check back following the lower repair estimate.

But he claims the company refused to look into the matter further.

“At that point in time, they said it was settled and that there’s nothing more that was going to be done,” said Schmidt.

While conducting online research into their insurance provider, Schmidt’s wife discovered a News 6 report featuring another Tower Hill customer who was also denied a roof replacement following that same hail storm.

“The insurance company is saying it couldn’t be caused by hail,” Julie Voyles told News 6 in 2015.

After News 6 contacted Tower Hill about Voyles claim, the insurance company sent a roofing inspector to her home to provide a second opinion.

“It worked," Voyles said. "You guys get results."

That 2015 report prompted Schmidt to contact News 6.

When a News 6 reporter contacted Tower Hill Insurance, a company attorney responded by email.

“Unfortunately, due to privacy rules and regulations we are unable to comment on specific claims,” wrote Tower Hill Insurance General Counsel Scott P. Rowe. “However, we will contact Mr. Schmidt again in the near future to see if we can further assist in this matter.”

Less than a week later, a Tower Hill representative was in touch with Schmidt’s family.

“They reached a settlement that day,” said Schmidt. “It was for $19,000.”

According to Schmidt, the insurance company agreed to cover the cost of a full roof replacement without conducting a third appraisal.

Tower Hill representatives declined to explain why Schmidt’s original $1,900 claim grew to $19,000, again citing privacy laws.

“If a dispute arises, an insured can always ask to speak with a supervisor, manager or someone beyond their assigned adjuster,” said Rowe. “Tower Hill participates in a mediation program run by the state of Florida.

In that program, all costs are paid for by the insurance company, so it serves as a reasonable medium for insured (customers) to try and resolve disputes.”

As Schmidt watched workers tear out his old roof and prepare to lay down new shingles, he questioned whether he could have been able to get a roof replacement on his own.

“I’m just ecstatic with News 6,” said Schmidt. “I cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve done.”

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