I-Team investigates condo owner's claims - WFSB 3 Connecticut

I-Team investigates condo owner's claims

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NEWINGTON, CT (WFSB) -

As snow piled up on the roof of Art Boyle's Newington condo , he says he called Hartford-base Imagineers, the management company for his complex.

The company, which has 14,000 units in the states, eventually sent crews out to try to get the snow off the roof, but by then it was too late.

The melting snow had leaked into his unit. He's had tarps up ever since the storm last year, covering up heavy-duty mold that you can practically taste as soon as you step inside.

There's also a hole rotted away that's big enough to reveal the backside of the vinyl siding. There's warped wood floors and peeling paint, too.

"My wife and I have been literally at each other's throats. It's torn my wife apart. The stress, the aggravation of living like this," Boyle said.

The delays in getting the problem fixed started when an insurance adjuster came in March. Boyle, an adjuster himself, disagreed with the estimate. That started months of fighting over how much it would cost, and who would do the work.

Boyle has been battling with Apple Hill Homeowner's Association, with his insurance company and with Imagineers. He admits to letting his anger get the best of him at times. No question, it's turned ugly.

"Now we have attorneys involved back and forth, I'm not allowed to speak to anybody at the association or at Imagineers, it has to go through an attorney," Boyle said.

Part of what has Boyle so mad is that the insurance company says they paid the claim. The Apple Hill Homeowners Association has had the money for months and still Boyle's condo is unrepaired.

So the I-Team went to Imagineers looking for answers. President Ken Schultz declined to go on camera, but told the I-Team that Boyle has been "abusive" to his employees and that he believes Boyle's calls to the I-Team amount to "grandstanding."

Schultz said the claim has been paid, but says condo association bylaws mean Boyle needs to either use a Imagineers contractor or his own licensed contractor to do the work.

If he chooses his own guy, he'll get half the money up front and the other half once the work has been inspected and OK'd by Imagineers.

Boyle says he believes he is entitled to the whole check right away. Imagineers gave the I-Team a statement saying, "All parties involved with Mr. Boyle's issues have made extraordinary efforts to try to accommodate his many concerns and demands. The delay in resolving the issues ... Are the result of additional claims being made by the unit owner. Attempts to gain access by the adjuster for further review and verification were rebuffed by the unit owner."

Boyle tried to file a complaint with the state's Department of Insurance, and that's when he found out that in the eyes of the law, he doesn't even have a right to complain about this.

"The bottom line everywhere was, we can't help you," Boyle said.

Gerard O'Sullivan with state's Department of Insurance said people figure it's an insurance claim, so they should be able to have the jurisdiction to go in and fix it, but many things are between the condo association and the insurance company.

He said cases like Boyle's happen all the time to people who live in condos. 

The problem is the condo owner's individual insurance policy only covers the inside of the unit, anything outside like a water leak due to snow is covered by the association's general policy, even if the damage is both outside and inside.

So the association files a claim with their insurance company and it's paid out to the association or to a management company like Imagineers. Either way, the homeowner's name isn't on the policy or the claim, so even though the unit is destroyed, they're left at the mercy of others.

"You are not a direct party to the claim, so the claim is paid to the condo association," O'Sullivan said. 

What's ironic is that Boyle worked in insurance his whole life. He's been an adjuster for nearly 50 years.

Just hours after the I-Team was at Imagineers, Boyle got a letter suggesting a solution. He has since agreed to Imagineers terms and gotten more than $19,000 toward the repairs.

The management company says the timing was a coincidence and that the offer has been on the table for months.

Boyle credits the I-Team's questions with finally moving the repairs along.

A group of condo owners in the state have set up a website to support and aid other condo owners in disputes. You can view their website by clicking here.

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