CHICAGO — A South Side homeowner reached out to WGN Investigates after a drive-by shooting led her to question her insurance policy.
A Chicago woman wasn’t happy with the outcome when she went looking for help after she was the victim of a crime.
On April 4, Linda Bailey came downstairs to find glass all over her floors and bullet holes in the walls.
“They don’t know if someone was coming through the alley or someone was driving through,” Bailey said.
Her front window was shattered by eight or nine bullets. Some of them hit two upstairs bathrooms.
“And for them to be that powerful to go through the wall and the siding and to hit the other two houses on the side of me too,” Bailey said.
After filing an insurance claim and paying the deductible, she said the money approved by the insurance adjuster wasn’t nearly enough to cover the damage
She only got $2,700 for the windows.
“I said that’s not gonna cover it,” Bailey said. “The quotes that I received were for $4,700 to $5,100. These are double-pane windows. You see how big they are.”
That’s when Bailey called WGN Investigates.
We found she isn’t the only one facing these issues.
Over the last five years, in 2018, more than a thousand people in Illinois complained about a string of issues with homeowners’ policies, including delays, denials or settlements.
Complaints continued to trend up.
By 2022, they were up to nearly 1,600.
It’s on track to hit similar levels this year, an increase of 50% in less than five years.
“One thing that we need to not overlook is COVID-19,” Loyola University Insurance Law Professor Rick Hammond said. “COVID-19 had an impact on all industries, including insurance.”
Hammond said insurance companies also dealt with labor shortages due to the pandemic, which slowed things down.
He’s not involved in Bailey’s case, but he does have a theory.
“You’re finding that about 35 to 40 percent of carriers are using virtual methods to adjust claims,” Hammond said.
That means artificial intelligence and the pictures you take of damage are sometimes replacing face-to-face adjusters.
“The insurance industry is repositioning itself through technology, through virtual claims handling,” Hammond said.
In most cases, it’s working well. But it’s not foolproof.
It took four months, but after a complaint with the state and a call to the WGN-TV newsroom, Bailey received the response she hoped for and can put a bad memory behind her.
“Two weeks later, the adjuster calls me and said ‘We decided to look further into your claim and we’ll pay off your windows,'” Bailey said. “Oh really? It had to take that?”
An Allstate spokesperson said they conducted a thorough review and resolved the claim.
Hammond said if this happens to you, providing detailed information is key to receiving an appropriate settlement.
The Illinois Department of Insurance is a good resource in case you’re not pleased with the outcome.