Lake County, Indiana couple battles State Farm for months over roof repairs for hail damage

Samantha Chatman Image
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
NW Indiana couple battles insurance for months over roof repairs
A Lake Co. Indiana couple was locked in a months-long battle with State Farm insurance over damage from a hail storm the company claimed didn't happen.

ST. JOHN, Ind. (WLS) -- A couple in Lake County, Indiana, was locked in a months-long battle with State Farm insurance over roof damage. They said the damage came from a hail storm in the spring, but the couple said the insurance company insisted the storm never happened.

Irma and Alan Johnsen said the ordeal started on March 26, when much of the Chicago area, including Northwest Indiana, saw hail. They said their roof was damaged in the storm, but State Farm told them there was no hail that day and they would not be covering their roof repairs.

"There was hail, and it was one inch sized hail," Alan Johnsen said. "It looked like it had been a half inch to an inch snow storm."

The hail was even tracked on our air by ABC7 meteorologist Greg Dutra.

"A lot of hail. Pea sized to dime size. But there were some pennies and quarters reported," he said.

As the hail came down, the Johnsens said all they could think about was their roof.

"I thought that we should get it checked and make sure it's not problems or anything," Johnsen said.

But there were problems. So, the couple said, a contractor came out and identified hail strikes; shingles that were lifting and cracking. They were advised to get the roof replaced to avoid leaks, at a cost of more than $19,000.

The couple said they contacted their insurance company, State Farm.

"When the adjuster was here, after doing the inspection he said there was damage and they would have to get an estimate together. And that adjuster disappeared," Johnsen said.

The couple said State Farm sent out another adjuster, who had a much different take on their roof.

"He said basically you have wear and tear," Johnsen recalled. "The damage was about $500 and your deductible is more than that so we're not going to give you anything. He said, there hasn't been hail in St. John since 2022."

According to the National Weather Service, there were several reports of hail in Northwest Indiana on March 26, including 1 inch size hail in St. John.

"Who are we dealing with? This is a company we expect to be reputable, responsible," said Irma Johnsen. "They have worn us out."

The Johnsens said despite the hail reports, they were still denied by state farm.

The I-Team reached out to the insurance company and a spokesperson responded in part, "With any claim, State Farm seeks to provide our customer all benefits to which they are entitled within the terms of the insurance policy. We continue to actively work with our customer on their claim to understand the facts of the loss, identify the damages and applicable coverage, and ultimately resolve their claim."

Alan Johnsen said within a couple days of the I-Team reaching out to State Farm, they were told a new adjuster was going to come out. They said he examined the roof and agreed to cover the cost. They said he wrote them a check on the spot for $17,908.67.

"Sam was on our side," Johnsen said. "We are happy that we called you, that somebody listened."

State Farm said they take pride in their customer service and are committed to paying what they owe promptly, courteously and efficiently.

If you find yourself in the Johnsens' situation you should take as many picture and video documentation as you can once the storm has passed through and get an estimate of the damage from a trusted contractor.

If you feel your insurance company is lowballing you, you can report it to your state's Department of Insurance.

If you still need help, call the I-Team at 312-750-7 TIP.