Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Help Me Howard: Bonded and Insured
You hire someone to work in your home a painter, a roofer, a maid because they are bonded and insured, and then something disappears. They have to pay right? Not always, which is why one South Florida couple called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
"Nothing like the water on the Caribbean .. bluer than blue, bluer than blue."
For the cruise Elena wanted to take a special pair of earrings Jim had bought her for their 49th wedding anniversary.
Elena Gombar: "And I went into the closet and the box wasn't there. Maybe I put it someplace else."
Elena had left the box with the two carat diamond earrings right here. For days they searched and then...
Elena Gombar: "And one day when I went into my closet I looked on the opposite side behind my blouses that were hanging and there was the box. Opened and tossed on the side like somebody had thrown it after they took the earrings out."
The diamond earrings that Jim had paid $8,000 for were gone. Suspicion turned to the only one they let in their house, a maid company.
Elena Gombar: "There was nobody else. No other service. No painter. No floor polisher in the house. It had to be them."
The Gombars had hired the maid service for one simple reason, they advertised that they were bonded and insured.
Elena Gombar: "So to me I interpreted that God forbid something happens to them when they are working for me they are covered. And God forbid they take anything while working for me I am covered."
They called the maid company who told them to call their bonding company. More bad news.
Elena Gombar: "The bonding company said they are only in play if there is a conviction."
The Broward Sheriffs Office did investigate, but the problem Elena and Jim could not be sure when the earrings were stolen, and the company had sent several different maids and trainees to their house.
Jim Gombar: "In total instead of two there might have been 10 or 12 that were in and out."
The fact that someone Elena trusted, that she brought into her home would steal her earrings that she had hidden in a closet, disappoints her.
Elena Gombar: "Sick. Sick to think that somebody would do that. Somebody that works for you, somebody that I felt I treated well. I couldn't believe it."
But they thought they had prepared for the unbelievable by hiring a company that was bonded and insured..
Jim Gombar: "So we are trying to find out ... very simple what does it mean."
Elena Gombar: Really and are they responsible or aren't they responsible?"
Well Howard, whether you hire a painter or a maid what does bonded and insured mean?
Howard Finkelstein: "When a company is bonded and insured if their employee steals, you get re-imbursed. If there is a conviction. If they break something and its clear they did it, they have to pay."
I spoke to the Molly Maid franchise owner in Weston who told me the Gombar's should contact his insurance company, which they had already done.
I then spoke to Molly Maids corporate people. A spokesman wrote that the franchisee did background checks on all the people who had been in Elena's house. That the franchisee had fully co-operated with the police. He added our insurance policy does not pay claims without a criminal conviction.
Howard Finkelstein: "And that is the problem with bonded and insured. Unless you catch the crook on videotape stealing or pawning the merchandise, its virtually impossible to get a conviction because you cant prove they took it."
Odds are no one will ever be charged. But on the bright side, Jim and Elena had a wonderful cruise and in retirement, still continue to learn lessons.
Elena Gombar: "That bonded and insured does not mean that I am covered then I have to live with that and let the buyer beware."
Elena Gombar: "Nobody can be trusted. No matter what they say, no matter what the company advertisement, is you are on your own."
Patrick Fraser: "Now since its clear bonded and insured is not what people think. It is the best way to protect yourself. If its valuable, hide it, lock it up and check your insurance because many require an additional policy to cover valuable items like jewelry."
A mess made you feel miserable? Need someone to clean up? Contact us, we aren't treasures, we aren't diamonds in the rough but we work hard.
Contact Help Me Howard:
E-mail: email@example.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org