Keep an eye out for this one folks… Maybe just an isolated incident, or the start of a new trend…

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Jim Burress (2010-07-06)
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ATLANTA, GA (WABE) – With record home foreclosures hitting Atlanta hard, abandoned and decaying houses permeate many of the city’s neighborhoods. And as one Atlanta homeowner recently learned, your neighbor’s house could affect your ability get insurance. WABE’s Jim Burress reports.

Standing on the porch of his newly-purchased two-story house on Old Wheat Street, Jason White pulls from his mailbox a long, white envelope. It’s a bill from Allstate–$11 for a canceled homeowner’s insurance policy.

“They came out and they said they were reducing the policy premium a little bit,” White said of his initial experience with the insurance company. “Then I got a letter, actually my mortgage company got the letter first, saying my insurance was canceled. I was like, I haven’t heard anything,'” he said.

The Allstate letter references two reasons for the cancellation. One, a small amount of dry rot on the home’s siding–something White says is small and easily fixed. The second reason given is the abandoned, decaying house next door.

“The front yard is completely overgrown,” White says as he walks around his yard, pointing at the house next door. “The weeds are five feet, six feet high.”

If it was possible to reach the neighboring house’s front door, one would see a sign condemning the structure. The place is a mess. The porch has remnants of old furniture, garbage, even a blank cassette tape. A padlocked fence separates the house from the sidewalk. White admits it’s a hazard, but says he doesn’t understand why Allstate would cancel his policy because of someone else’s negligence.

“Nobody called to talk about the situation, make any suggestions,” he said, adding that he simply received a letter saying his insurance was canceled.

Allstate spokeswoman Nancy Lemke says the insurer manages risk and controls costs by considering not only an individual’s home, but also the area around it. “In some instances, adjacent exposures–like vacant or abandoned buildings–can be indicative of a higher-risk environment,” Lemke said.

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