Resort won't pay for guests' belongings lost in sinkhole - FOX 13 News

Resort won't pay for guests' belongings lost in sinkhole

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Debbi Ward returns home to New Hampshire with a letter, and a sense of hopelessness.

"It felt like I got kicked in the gut," she said. "Our computers, our clothes, our jewelry, money, everything went into the sinkhole," she said.

It was meant to be a dream vacation. Debbi, her sister and two nephews chose to stay at Summer Bay Resort. It was their fourth time at the timeshare resort, and they had good experiences there in the past.

Until August 12, when their vacation would turn into a nightmare.

"The windows were popping, the ceilings were starting to fall. There was a big crack in the side of the building," she said.

Everything they brought with them went down with the building, including the money they saved for their vacation.

They say, at first, management told them everything would be replaced. But on Monday, they got a letter that would bring them down.

"I feel betrayed, because in the meeting before we left, the president and vice president of Summerbay Resorts told us they were going to take care of us and now we're getting a letter that says I'm sorry, we can't," she said.

In the letter, Summer Bay Resorts says: "We have determined that the personal items in the unit you occupied cannot be recovered due to the conditions of fallen debris...In our efforts to assist affected owners and guests, we are informed under Florida law, a public lodging establishment is not responsible for the loss of personal belongings. We have, however, learned that such losses might be recovered under an owner or guest's personal homeowner's insurance policy."

In fact, that's true, according to a spokesperson from the Insurance Information Institute.

"In a standard homeowner's or renter's insurance policy, you have coverage for your personal belongings, and that can cover you no matter what happens -- be it a sinkhole, be it a theft, it provides insurance for you wherever you are in the world," said Lynne McChristian.

Debbi is getting a mixed message.

"What is the next step? My insurance company tells me they probably won't cover it either. I don't know where we are going to go," she said.

But she does know one thing: No matter where she goes, vacation will never be the same.

"We are a little leery, but we will just take what we need day by day," she said.

FOX 13 tried several times to talk to Summer Bay Resorts and our calls were not answered.

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