Family lost home in fire, but says insurance wouldn’t cover most of their belongings

LINCOLNTON. N.C. — Heather Gannon says the day started great. She was at work and it was her work anniversary: Twenty-four years as a medical assistant.

But she says then her phone rang. She says she rushed home to Lincolnton and found her burned house in shambles. She says, fortunately, no one was hurt.

“The main thing that this fire took from us was our security, our safety, our stability,” she said.

As for their belongings, she says they rented and had renters insurance, but that the company, Assurant, would only cover less than a third of what she expected. She says less than $25,000.

“We lost everything. Everything. And when you have that comfort in knowing I have an insurance policy. We’re going to be OK. I can replace the beds. I can buy you more toys. I can get you more books,” she said. “The thing about insurance is that everybody needs it, but you hope to never have to use it.”

Gannon says part of the problem was proving what they owned.

“I’m the main breadwinner and so, every penny that I’ve already pinched, is now getting squeezed again,” she said.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke emailed Assurant. It said it cut Gannon a check based on the “evidence” she provided and that it even gave her “some additional funds early.” The company said if she deserved more than that, she’d have to provide more proof. The company said it would “continue working” with Gannon on this.

Their full statement:

“Thank you for reaching out on behalf of our policyholder Ms. Gannon. We certainly sympathize with Ms. Gannon regarding this trying time for her and her family and her frustrations with the processing of her fire loss claim. It is our continuing goal to work with policyholders to quickly resolve claims. As you may be aware, with personal property claims under renters insurance policies, it is important that policyholders provide some form of evidence of the personal property for which they are seeking coverage. Ms. Gannon previously provided us with evidence of the personal property she wanted covered under the policy which allowed us to issue her a payment on April 10, 2024 based on the information she provided. The value of the personal property she submitted was less than her full policy limit, accordingly, as would be the case with any renters policy, her payment was based on that value. We informed Ms. Gannon that we would not be able to release her full policy limits for personal property without additional supporting documents showing additional personal property that was damaged. Recognizing the difficulties she is facing and to further assist Ms. Gannon with her loss, we did release some additional funds early to Ms. Gannon. Ms. Gannon is now working directly with our team on providing additional supporting documents for the items she feels are missing from the initial estimate. We will continue working with Ms. Gannon to bring her claim to an amicable resolution.”

Fewer than two weeks later, she emailed Stoogenke the company was paying her the rest she hoped for, for a total of $75,000.


In a perfect world, everyone would have an up-to-date catalog of everything they own: Pictures, receipts, the works. But that’s not practical. So Stoogenke always tries to give you advice you can actually do. So here it is:

  • Walk around your home and shoot video of your belongings.
  • Narrate it. Describe what we’re seeing, what brands.
  • It doesn’t have to focus on everything, but hit the important stuff.
  • Upload it to the cloud in case something happens to your device.
  • You may want separate insurance policies for items that are extra valuable. If not, at least make sure you document those specifically.

(WATCH BELOW: How to avoid insurance scams)

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