The Investigators

Jul 31, 2013 1:00 AM by Tom McNamara

News 4 Investigators: Homeowner Hell

TUCSON - If you're a homeowner, imagine your house suddenly falling apart. Walls are cracking, the foundation is sinking. And, you're facing tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

Good thing you have homeowners' insurance, right?

Not always.

One homeowner found out the hard way that his house, and his insurance coverage, have crumbled on him all at once.

That homeowner is former KVOA Sports Director, Dan Ryan.

He showed us around his house on the northwest side, which is literally falling apart all around him.

There are cracks in the walls, the floors, and the foundation. And the roof has caved-in in several rooms.

What caused this?

Contractors told him a faulty polybutelene pipe burst in the foundation beneath his bedroom.

Water from that leak flooded into the ground, causing the foundation to begin sinking and cracking.

Ryan tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "every day, every night, every hour of every passing day, you can hear this house self-destructing. You can hear it creak. You can hear it groan. The emotional status of this is unbelievable. we can't sleep. it, it has enveloped us."

Ryan called his insurance company, American Family Insurance.

He said he carries a premium 'Gold Star' policy on his home, and said he believed he was covered for catastrophes like this.

"I immediately filed a claim with AmFam. And they said you're covered, we'll take care of it," Ryan says.

American Family sent their experts and estimators to see the damage, then sent Ryan an estimate of damages, detailing over $20,00 in needed repairs, with instructions on filing a claim.

But a month later, another letter arrived from American Family. This time, they told Ryan he is not covered for all that damage to his home.

The company told Ryan his policy "...specifically excludes damage which results from earth movement... Aggravated by subsidence, earth sinking, rising, shifting, expanding or contracting."

At that point, Ryan hired an attorney to help him fight American Family on the claim.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators contacted American Family Insurance, and they told us they're now re-examining Ryan's claim, and should have a decision some time this week.

Ryan told us total damages to his home could rise to several hundred thousand dollars. He says if he doesn't get help from American Family, he may have to abandon his house.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators will let you know what happens.

If you have something you would like us to investigate, contact us at


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