Insurance Issues Plague Some Tornado Survivors - NECN

Insurance Issues Plague Some Tornado Survivors



    Insurance issues plague some tornado survivors

    Mass. Division of Insurance and Develop Springfield are assisting the 2-percent of people still struggling with insurance claims (Published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014)

    (NECN: Josh Brogadir, Springfield, Mass.) - Throughout the tornado zone in Massachusetts, many people have resolved their insurance claims.

    But some have not.

    Here's one couple's story.

    Michael Gossman filled out insurance paperwork one day shy of one year since he snapped a cell phone picture of the deadly tornado hurtling over the Connecticut River.

    This is what it looked like inside his Springfield, Mass. apartment.

    He and his girlfriend Bea Puglise are still trying to settle a $30,000 claim.

    "It seems like every time you get up to take two steps forward, you're taking three or four back. Sometimes you just don't know where to go or who to talk to," Puglise said.

    One year later, 98 percent of tornado insurance claims have been resolved, this couple is among the other 2 percent that the Mass. Division of Insurance and Develop Springfield are trying to help.

    "It sounded like there were a lot of months that they were going back and forth where we probably could have helped them resolve the issue a long time ago," said Tom Walsh, an insurance examiner at the Mass. Division of Insurance.

    The storm damage is no doubt significant, but has taken an unexpected emotional toll.

    "I've been talking to a doctor, a therapist," said Gossman. "I call it tornado stress, they were talking post traumatic stress because of recollections showing this is the week that was a year later. It's almost a flashback thing."

    "He's screaming shut it off, shut the TV off. And I was sitting there and I was crying, I was hysterical because they showed our apartment," Puglise said.

    The walk down their old street reveals buildings being fixed and now-empty lots where buildings once stood.

    After renting a fourth floor loft for 20 years in downtown Springfield, Michael and Bea are living in Holyoke, Mass. for now.

    They're hoping to get their legal and financial issues resolved - and when the apartment is fixed up, to move back in.

    "It's just too bad that we have to see this and it's a year later and we're still looking at it," Gossman added.

    All 32 of these apartments are still vacant.

    Michael and Bea say they have been having issues with the landlord. They have taken him to housing court.

    NECN tried to reach the landlord for comment, but did not hear back.