Insurance Companies Threaten Homeowners Over Overgrown Trees

CHICAGO (CBS) — Imagine your insurance company calling and threatening to drop you, unless you get rid of something that’s not even on your property.

As CBS 2’s Sandra Torres reports, that’s happening to some senior citizens in Chicago — and they’re just the ones we know about.

For 70-year-old Carmella Johnson, the overgrown trees along the side of her West Englewood home are a nightmare. “I can’t get rid of them. When you ask someone to help you out, they do want to get paid — I don’t have money for that.”

The trees are not on her property; they sit on a vacant lot next to her home. However, her insurance company is asking her to get rid of them.

“I received a letter on October the 6. If I don’t take care of that, then they will drop my insurance,” she said.

The letter says Ms. Johnson must make the proper repairs by Dec. 24 to continue her insurance policy.

“It raised my blood pressure. It’s very frustrating,” said Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th District), who says he’s heard from at least five other constituents with similar issues. “These individuals don’t deserve that, it’s by no fault of their own. And I think these insurance companies are taking advantage of people’s predicaments.”

Therefore, the alderman introduced a resolution that passed Wednesday. It calls on the state to protect homeowners from policies being cancelled for reasons beyond their control.

“This story is not unique to her, it’s not unique to my ward, and as we look and move forward, we have to do something that is city-wide and will be beneficial.” Lopez said.

While the resolution doesn’t stop the insurance agency from dropping Ms. Johnson, Ald. Lopez says he’s looking for other ways to help her before the December deadline.

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