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Despite insurance payments, woman remains homeless a year after fire

Despite insurance payments, woman remains homeless a year after fire (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) On the recordings to 9-1-1, you can hear the panic in Patrice Harris' voice as she screams from them to “hurry.”

Her home was on fire and she was trapped inside. It was a cop who first arrived on scene and thanks to some heroic, and aerobic efforts, Harris escaped from her second story window.

"He found a ladder in my backyard and I climbed out the ladder on top of his shoulders to get out."

It was a harrowing ordeal -- but it was not a recent ordeal. It all took place way back in in July of 2016.

Despite the home being insured, Harris is still homeless more than a year later. She is waiting for her home to be rebuilt and living in a tent in her backyard?

"Nothing wakes you up like a cold hose shower," she joked.

The problem, she says, is that even though her home was insured, her contractor can't get paid. She's spent the last year fighting to get the funds so construction can get moving but she can’t get the people who control the money to budge.

"I feel hopeless, like I'm never going to get home," she said.

Harris’ insurance company, Farm Bureau, tells Get Gephardt that they have already paid out on the claim. The money was not paid to Harris. It was paid to her mortgage company, the primary lien holder on the home.

The mortgage company is "responsible for releasing the funds to the builder," a Farm Bureau spokesperson wrote.

Harris’ mortgage company, Seterus, did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but perhaps they got the messages because, a short time later, Seterus sent the funds to Harris’ builder so he can complete the work on her home.

She’s still frustrated.

"They have really put me through a living hell," she said.

According to the Utah insurance department, it's common for an insurance company to send the money to the mortgage company rather than to the person whose house burned down.

What is not common is the time frame. In Utah, repairs are supposed to take around "180 days" according to most insurance contracts.

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