Better Call Behnken: 2nd customer battling mortgage company as Lakeland man closer to repairs

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A Lakeland man is one step closer to fixing roof damage from Hurricane Irma after a Better Call Behnken story.

Ditech Financial has agreed to send Donald Smith a check for his full insurance settlement.

Originally, Ditech cashed Smith’s insurance check – without his endorsement – and applied the entire $17,715 toward his mortgage balance.

Ditech has not responded to questions from Better Call Behnken, but Smith says a manager called him to say he will get the money sometime next week.

“I’m still nervous,” Smith said. “But things are looking up.”

The change of heart is good for Smith, but added to confusion for another Ditech customer who is battling the insurance company too.

Randy Geier is afraid to send his checks to Ditech. He received two checks totaling nearly $20,000. Ditech’s name is on the checks, and Geier does not want to send them to the mortgage company. Ditech has told him they will hold the money and release portions as he proves repairs have been made.

“Their name should not be on the checks,” Geier said. “I am the one that paid for this policy and I need the money to fix my house.”

Geier says he worries he can’t fix the home without getting the cash first, because he doesn’t have enough money to front the work.

“I can’t do nothing,” Geier said. “When you leave, I’m going to put them back in a hiding place, because I’m never going to send them to the mortgage company.”

State regulators say mortgage companies can hold the money and disperse it as repairs are made. However, many companies allow their customers to use the money as they see fit.

Regulators fear that the confusion will lead to homeowners failing to make repairs.

That could hurt the homeowner even more, because if damage gets worse because repairs were not made, it will likely not be covered by insurance.

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