MUSKEGON, Mich. — Since May 8, 2014, the Guenthardt family says it's been in a battle with Geico insurance.
"It was a beautiful sunny day," Theresa Guenthardt recalled.
That day took a sudden deadly turn. While taking a ride, Theresa and her mother Dolores found themselves in the path of an oncoming vehicle on Dangl Road. Fruitport Township police said the driver of that oncoming car had lost control.
"We hit him, his car broke into three pieces, and he was instantly dead," Theresa said.
The 27-year-old man died at the scene. The impact broke 82-year-old Dolores' right femur and fractured her neck.
Theresa added, "And my mother suffered a broken hip, and I suffered a broken leg and a torn rotator cuff."
Doctors prescribed a ramp, a handicap accessible bedroom and bathroom for the Guenhardts. Theresa said Dolores could no longer walk after doctors removed the ball of her hip. It's an injury that forced her to live in nursing homes until the home addition was complete.
"There would be a 16x16 bedroom, a handicap accessible bathroom, a mechanical room, and this is the breezeway," Theresa pointed out.
The Guenthardts say they filed their claim with Geico in 2014 after the accident. They said the company put off approving the $120,000 construction funding for more than a year. Work finally started in late 2016. That's two long years after the accident.
"I was so elated when they broke ground," Theresa said her mother, "was just so excited."
But tragedy struck again. Dolores Guenthardt never made it back home. She was stuck in nursing homes because of all the insurance delays and died from a massive stroke earlier this year.
"So she didn't get to see it," Theresa said.
"On the 12th of January, after my mother passed away on the 11th, they said they wouldn't go any further," she recalled.
As soon as Dolores passed, construction immediately stopped. Geico sent a letter to the Guenhardts that stated the company would now only pay to demolish what's been built and to the property to pre-construction conditions because of Dolores' death.
Luke Moyer, the building contractor said, "Geico's drug their feet the whole time."
He said he feels Geico mistreated the Guenhardts.
"The amount of time they stalled here, it was almost like they were hoping that Dolores would pass away before it came to fruition," Moyer said.
He recalled, "And I got a call from Geico stating that Dolores had passed away, and that they were no longer probably going to be paying for anything."
Moyer said Geico adamantly requested a bid for demolition and restoration of the property. He submitted a quote of $60,000, including the value of two, large, old oak trees that were removed for construction.
Geico's decision to no longer fund construction came despite the fact Theresa is the policyholder, and her doctor and the occupational therapist recommended she'd also need the modifications. On top of that, Theresa said she's undergoing surgery in June.
Theresa said, "And so, it'll be a chore. Ya know, I need this area. And at the beginning, we both were given prescriptions for a handicap accessible bathroom and a handicap accessible bedroom."
"It's been frustrating to look at it and be reminded that was, ya know, our dream really didn't come true," Theresa said.
Geico hasn't returned a comment for the story yet.