BRANSON, Mo -- Everyone buys insurance coverage expecting to get back every dollar of their claim from losses. But some are surprised when the city where they live withholds some of the pay-out.
It's been nearly three weeks since a tornado touched down in Branson and some business owners and homeowners are just now getting their insurance checks to start rebuilding or repairing.
But one Branson resident is angry after he realized nearly $4,000 was missing from his check.
"My neighbor called me and said they had a tornado and my garage was hit," said Butch Drew.
When Butch finally got home, "I was sickened by the damage and kind of in awe."
Once the shock wore off it was time to deal with his insurance company. "Now I'm at the point where I do have the insurance money and am ready to go forward."
But Butch doesn't have all of his insurance money. The city of Branson is holding onto 25%, which is required by a Missouri Statute.
"It's included in all municipalities in Missouri that have a dangerous building ordinance," said Branson Economic Development Director Garrett Anderson.
Several municipalities in the Ozarks have the same ordinance as Branson--including Buffalo, Joplin, and Springfield. (See the other cities here)
The ordinance was designed to help protect cities. So after a natural disaster, if an owner of a home or a business decides to take their insurance money and run, leaving a mess behind, the city doesn't have to foot the bill when it's time to clean it up.
From the Missouri Department of Insurance:
Chapter 67, RSMo, requires insurers to pay local governments part of the proceeds for buildings that are substantially damaged to protect taxpayers against demolition costs if the property is abandoned and not repaired -- if the cities, towns, villages or first-class counties pass such ordinances.
"Any building that is damaged above 50% needs to provide, when their insurance is calculated, 25% deposit to the city," said Anderson.
That money is held in an escrow account for 30 days until the homeowner or business owner can prove they have a plan for their property.
"At the end of that 30 days," said Anderson, "if the property owner is already demolishing the building or have taken steps to demolish it, then it will be released automatically."
While Butch can understand the city's need to protect itself, he feels it's just another hoop he has to go through to get his life back to normal.
"You fight the tornado, you fight with the insurance company to get out here and get the money, and now you have to fight the city to get the money you fought to get from the insurance company," Butch said.
The city of Branson says, so far, they've only received one payment from an insurance company, and it's for a business. As far as Butch's money is concerned, just because his claim breakdown says the money went to the city doesn't mean it's made its way there just yet. It's a process just like anything else.