Saturday, March 23, 2019

Spring storms bring perils, homeowners warned

Local man serves as homeowners’ advocate

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

The sometimes-sudden, severe storms springtime brings to the Southwest Side can leave quite a bit in their wake: downed trees and power lines, damaged roofs and fast-talking quick-fix guys who seem to come out of nowhere.

“You have to be really careful, but perhaps especially senior
citizens,” said CPD Officer Ray Tracy said at a CAPS Beat 811 meeting last week. “This is the time of year when these con artists really come out. Be careful who you open your door for.”

Tracy described a situation where a 92-year-old Garfield Ridge man heard his doorbell ring. He answered it and found a man asking him if he was aware that he had roof damage. The elderly homeowner stepped outside and walked around the side of his house with the man, to have a better look and talk about what repairs might costs.

A few minutes later, the senior citizen noticed that accomplices had slipped into his house and stolen and envelope with about $3,000 cash inside. The victim chased the thieves to their pickup and grabbed the door as it started to speed away. He was dragged a short distance before he let go.  

The elderly man was banged up, but is recovering.

Other dangers

Another peril that some homeowners face is dealing with insurance companies when they file claims relating to storm damage.

“That storm we had [in May of 2018], where it was like a mini-
tornado and it was even knocking down trees…I could see that my window frames were damaged [from the storm’s wind-blown hail],” said Sue Sarafin, a senior citizen who has owned a home near 57th and Oak Park for about 35 years.
So she called her insurance agent and started the claims process. “They sent somebody out, and he looked at the damage; but then later I learned that all they would pay was for a few replacement screens.”

She was dissatisfied, to say the least.

“You pay your [insurance] premiums for years and years, and then this happens? They only give you this small amount? That doesn’t make sense.”

On the advice of others, she then called Geno Randazzo of
All Exterior Contractors—licensed, bonded, insured and a
member of the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce—a Southwest Side native building a home repair expert in the area.

He also has been visible in the community over the last several years, helping sponsor drives to assist military veterans, local school children and Thanksgiving dinners for senior citizens.

What sets Randazzo apart from others is that he also serves as a public claims adjuster—a licensed professional who can and has gotten insurance companies to pay what they should pay homeowners.

Randazzo “came out and looked at my home and garage, and he pointed out storm damage that I myself had not seen,” Sarafin said. There was damage to the roof my garage, and there was [hail damage] on my gutters, downspouts, awnings and siding.”

She consented to having Randazzo represent her, and he
got to work filing a new claim. After a lot of back and forth over the next several months, the insurance company that had been willing to pay only $2,900 changed course and agreed to pay more than $15,000 for storm damage to her home.

Sarafin said she is “completely satisfied with what Geno did with the insurance company, as well as the quality of the work his company did in repairing my house and garage. I would recommend him to everyone; and the next time a severe storm comes through, I’ll call Geno first.”

“Just about everybody likes their local insurance agent—it
may be a friend, a relative, an old classmate—but all too often, it’s a different story when people have to deal with the big insurance companies,” Randazzo said. “Keep in mind, that big insurance company you’ve been paying premiums to for years and years does not represent you. They represent themselves. Mrs. Sarafin’s story is familiar—a homeowner with thousands of dollars in storm damage, but an insurance company that pays only a few hundred. All too often, people get short-changed; and since they didn’t know their rights, they didn’t know what to do.”

“What I tell people is, call me first at (708) 705-7900—before you call your insurance agent, before you contact your insurance company to make a claim,” Randazzo added. “I will show you how I will work on your behalf, representing you, to get what you deserve.”

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