After Ch. 9 investigation, insurance company pays residents displaced by fire

CORNELIUS, N.C. — After a fire destroyed a Cornelius apartment complex, people who lived there are doing their best to move forward.

Channel 9 was at the Bexley at Lake Norman apartments in early May as crews worked to put the fire out. The damage left behind displaced at least 20 families.

Now, two months later, several of those people said they hadn’t seen a dime of their renters insurance payout. But once investigative reporter Madison Carter started asking why, payments came down that same day.


Shayna McClelland stood in a parking lot and watched everything she owned burn.

“My husband threw my purse at me and I got my dog. He got his phone and we ran out of the building,” McClelland told Carter.

McClelland said when the fire started that evening, she made it to the parking lot before realizing she would lose everything. She called her renters insurance right then and there to file a claim.

“They asked me, ‘So when did this happen?’ I said, ‘Well, you could turn on your local news because it’s happening as we speak,” McClelland said.

She said she had renters insurance through Assurant since 2019 and paid monthly for a set amount of coverage.

(PHOTOS: Bexley at Lake Norman Apartments fire in Cornelius)

“$15,000 total, and an additional $3,000 in living expenses,” she explained.

“How much have you seen of that $18,000?” Carter asked.

“Zero,” McClelland replied. She told Carter it had been two months.

McClelland said several other families insured with the company were dealing with the same silence. She showed Channel 9 the group chat between neighbors who were displaced by the fire.

We were there as McClelland called the company again. The voicemail for her adjuster said she’d get a call back by 10 a.m. the next business day, but McClelland told Carter that hasn’t been her experience.

“I have called and left six voice messages and four emails. I get no response,” McClelland said.

At 10:53 a.m. the day after she spoke with McClelland, Carter sent an email asking about the holdup. At 1:14 p.m. that same day, she got a text from one of the other families saying the interview worked -- they just go a call from Assurant.

Thirty minutes later, McClelland said she got word her payout would be sent by the end of the day.

After first reaching out to Assurant, Carter got an update on the claims but was asked to keep the details off the record.

Carter asked again why the payouts took so long and how others insured with Assurant can be sure this won’t happen to them. The company contacted each claimant within minutes of Carter following up before a spokesperson sent back a statement saying they’re diligent in their process.

The following is the entire statement shared by an Assurant spokesperson. It’s important to note that it didn’t answer any of our questions or address what happened to the residents in Cornelius.

“Assurant has been a leading provider of renters insurance for decades, helping millions of renters around the U.S. in their time of need. Our staff works tirelessly helping our customers process their claims in a timely manner, and our diligence in the process helps protect our customers privacy,” it reads. “Assurant has invested resources in easy-to-use digital solutions, like real-time text messaging and self-service tools for our customers, that help speed up the claims process.”

(WATCH BELOW: Organization helps residents who lost everything in Cornelius apartment fires)

Madison Carter

Madison Carter, wsoctv.com

Madison is an investigative reporter and anchor for Channel 9.