For over 20 years, I’ve represented homeowners in front of large insurance companies. I spend my days assisting my clients in the preparation, presentation, negotiation, and adjustment of their insurance claims. Today, I’m sharing an experience I had while handling a property damage claim in Wilshire Corridor:
How did you first become involved with this claim?
I came into the picture over a year after the damage occurred. The couple contacted me to handle ongoing negotiations with their insurance provider. They were having difficulty replacing damaged flooring in their high-rise condo. Their situation was extremely unique, from start to finish.
What was so unique about this claim?
Most insurance claims are the result of water damage or fire damage. In this case, the couple sustained property damage from a natural accident. Strong gusts of wind knocked an expensive vase from the top of their upright piano. The falling vase damaged the piano and shattered on the floor. Furthermore, the force and weight of the vase left a large dent in their porcelain flooring. They contacted their insurance company to file a claim for the flooring, the piano, and the vase.
Did the homeowners have coverage for this kind of accident?
They had a comprehensive homeowner’s insurance policy for the condo, including content coverage. Content coverage generally includes the cost of replacing your belongings in an amount equal to half the structural value of your home. In this case, the content coverage limit was very high.
Despite the generous coverage, difficulties arose when it came time to determine replacement costs. When the couple reached out to me, they were at an impasse with their corporate adjuster. The insurance company’s adjuster wanted to repair the damaged flooring, but the homeowners knew it needed to be completely replaced.
Why did the flooring need to be replaced instead of repaired?
The original flooring was a seamless porcelain tile that had been imported from England. That tile was a limited edition run and was no longer available. Moreover, because of the way the flooring was installed, replacing the flooring in one room required gutting the unit and starting from scratch.
The insurance provider had an obligation to the homeowners. According to their own policy, they needed to return the flooring to its pre-loss condition. They wanted to exhaust all avenues for repair before agreeing to pay for a replacement. They insisted that the tile must be available in some capacity, and spent months searching for it.
The homeowners reached out to me because they wanted a resolution. The insurance company was dragging their feet. During the delay, the company had contacted manufacturers and contractors, receiving conflicting information. When I took on their representation, we were able to put the corporate adjuster in contact with the original installer of the flooring. He confirmed the tile was no longer available.
Were you able to reach a settlement?
We were able to resolve the claim to the homeowner’s satisfaction. Their insurance provider paid to install new flooring throughout the unit. They also paid for to repair the damaged piano and to replace the broken vase. This coincidental accident turned the couple’s lives upside down for over a year. They put forth a great deal of energy to resolve this claim without representation.
For me, this case illustrates one of the subtler tactics used by insurance providers to devalue a claim. They simply made the process so exhausting and unmanageable that it would have been easier to just give up and accept a low settlement. I’m extremely glad the couple reached out to me and together we obtained the money they deserved.