Homeowner receives check for fire damage after Problem Solvers investigation

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WYOMING, Mich. -- Michael Vela just wanted to spend the holidays at his home, but delay after delay getting his insurance money is keeping his family from returning.

Vela lost his home back in July when a fire engulfed and destroyed the inside of the home in less than 20 minutes.   He and his girlfriend, Hope Alberta, filed with their insurance company, AAA.

"It's pretty stressful" he said. "I got the holidays coming up, and I'm trying to get the house done and trying to get it squared away, and I'm not hearing anything from the insurance companies."

An adjuster came out to look at the house in July, but after that Vela didn't hear anything for a long time, he said. The original adjuster has since been fired.

Vela got tired of waiting and gutted the inside of the home himself, but animals began to infest his property as it sat vacant longer and longer, he said.

The FOX 17 Problem Solvers got in touch with AAA, who said the delay was mostly caused by Vela's indecisiveness in picking a contractor outside of their company's recommendations.

"This happened back three months ago," Vela said.  "I told them I was going to have my own people take care of this for me, and what he said is if I go with their company, their people we can start this today. And I told them now I don't want to go with their company, and then they dragged it on for months."

Five days after Vela talked with FOX 17 and we left messages for the insurance agents he as dealing with, Vela was issued a check to repair his home.

The delay in repairs also led to fines from the city of Wyoming: $50 for every month the home sat damaged and dormant.    However, AAA extended coverage for his temporary housing through Jan. 19, and the check Vela received will get reconstruction underway.

On Thursday, AAA issued a statement to FOX 17:

"We have apologized to Mr. Vela several times for any delay that may have occurred in the processing of his claim.  Some of the delays resulted in Mr. Vela not responding to our requests for information ... Mr. Vela has received a check from AAA for the actual cash value payment of more than $62,000."


(Contact FOX 17 Problem Solvers)

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