Two months later, Bryan Co. tornado victims are dealing with insurance issues


BRYAN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) – Some people on the north end of Bryan County say they are in the worst stage in recovering from a deadly EF-4 tornado – dealing with insurance companies.

We’re nearing the two month mark since families left their homes on a normal day and came back to them destroyed.

“It’s just very heartbreaking that you can go to work, you can pay your bills, you can do everything the right way and then you come home and you don’t have what you had that morning and you have to fight to get a fraction of that back,” said Yvonne Whitfield, a tornado victim.

Yvonne and Eric Whitfield live in Ellabell – one of those areas that got the most damage.

“You don’t think it could ever happen to you,” said Eric Whitfield, a tornado victim.

The family thought losing their “dream home” was the worst of it, but they said now it’s not seeing the return on their investment when they thought they had all the insurance and replacement coverage they needed.

“We’re looking at $185,000 just to replace our home,” Yvonne said.

The couple said it will take $265,000 to replace all they’ve lost. And they said having to get an SBA loan isn’t making it any easier because the SBA loans the money after deducting the amount insurance pays for the dwelling and contents.

“How is that fair? We just had to add 300 and something to our bills that we weren’t expecting…it’s a 30 year loan.”

The tornado actually moved the house 6 inches from its foundation. They’re in an RV until they can rebuild.

Yvonne said: “We’re having to rent the camper, but they’re not paying for any of that. We still have to pay for a mortgage and our normal bills.”

The Whitfields said neighbors and other tornado victims are sharing the same stories and they just want people to know in the worst case of another disaster, people need to find out what insurance will and won’t do.

“I don’t wish this on anyone and I’m disappointed in how I feel that our community has been treated by the insurance companies.”

Regardless of what insurance is doing to help, the family said they’re starting demolition on Monday and hopefully by September, they’ll have their home again.

WTOC spoke with the state insurance commissioner’s office to see how many people have filed complaints with them. They said they’ve only received 4 to 5 that have been settled.

You can always file a complaint with their office. The state will reach out to your insurance company.

Georgia law gives insurance companies 15 business days to respond and provide evidence.

You can also call the office directly at (800) 656-2298.

Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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