Austin, TX – “At least one US House Member has only the interest of the insurance industry in mind and wouldn’t know fraud if it bit him”, said Melinda Ballard, President, Policyholders of America, after she testified before a House Subcommittee whose charge is to investigate the growing mold problem plaguing homeowners today. The subcommittee hearing was held yesterday afternoon in Washington, DC. Many mold problems are caused by the insurance company’s refusal to honor the policy sold by delaying or denying legitimate covered water damage claims or disputing proper repairs that should be made to water damage.
Representative Gary Miller, R, California, attacked Ballard after she testified before the subcommittee, interrupted her when she answered his allegations, blatantly misrepresented the facts, and tried to create a false and misleading record of her testimony given in yesterday’s hearing. Miller also attempted to blame Ballard for the infestation of mycotoxin-producing mold that overtook her Texas home and caused her husband and young son to become seriously ill. Ballard took her insurer (a company under the Farmers Insurance umbrella) to trial and proved the insurer knowingly and intentionally committed fraud and bad faith.
Ballard has received emails and phone calls from legislators and their aides who apologized for Rep. Miller’s behavior. She urges homeowners not to blame all other committee members for the actions of one bad apple.
Ballard said that Representative Miller, a home builder, obviously cannot read. The entire transcript for this case is posted on Policyholders of America’s website and has been available to the public for months now. Therein, Farmers admits their misrepresentations to Ballard. Regardless, Farmers executives said they’d do it again, if given the chance.
Representative Miller’s comments insulted all homeowners with legitimate “beefs” with their insurance companies. Ballard said of Representative Miller’s conduct, “Like defense attorneys, he blames the victim. He would ask me questions and then interrupt my answers so that a Congressional record did not include my responses. He was rude and this sort of behavior is exactly why homeowners feel Washington is not representing their interests. However, his behavior certainly demonstrates how scared shoddy contractors and unethical insurance companies are of the Toxic Mold Safety & Protection Act or HR 5040, which protects homeowners, school children and other Americans.”
Ballard was the only woman testifying in yesterday’s hearing. She was also the only witness representing the interests of the consumer and was the only one attacked. Other testifiers included:
- Dr. Stephen Redd from the CDC,
- Gerald Howard of the National Home Builders Association,
- Tom Tighe of the International Union of Operating Engineers,
- Gordon Stewart of the Insurance Information Institute,
- Dr. Howard Sandler of Sandler Occupational Medicine Associates.
The hearing was left open for 30 days by its Chair so that lawmakers could submit written questions to the witnesses.
Policyholders of America is a nonprofit association of homeowners formed in early 2002 and has 18,763 American families in its membership. The association fights bad faith and fraud, champions lower premiums to reflect actual coverage, raises funds for treatment-driven medical research, and supports legislation that benefits the American homeowner.