Paying a high premium on an insurance policy can be a burden most people are familiar with. At some point in everyone’s life, you will need insurance. Whether that’s to pilot a boat, drive a car, or own a home, insurance is meant to financially compensate the policyholder if their property is lost, damaged, or stolen. Insurance companies make their bread and butter off their policyholders and in turn, those policyholders expect a reasonable investigation and fair compensation when they are required to file a claim because their property is damaged or made unusable.
On the night of April 18th, 2020, Montgomery County experienced a powerful wind and hail storm that blanketed the area in 1.2-inch size hail and wind gusts powerful enough to knock down several trees and powerlines throughout the county. Our client’s home endured the storm that evening. The hail damaged portions of our client’s roof and a storage building. The damage to the roof was severe enough that water had penetrated the roof and made its way inside through the ceiling of a utility room near the rear of the home. The hail also damaged gutters and drainage downspouts on the home.
Due to some unforeseen circumstances, some time passed before the claim was reported in March 2021. The insurance company received the claim—as it would any other—and began investigating the incident. As it would turn out, our client had canceled his policy with the insurance company in December 2020, prior to reporting the claim. The policy was canceled because our client ended up going with a different insurance company.
After its investigation, the insurance company denied our client’s claim. The alleged late reporting of the claim and the fact that the client had canceled his policy prior to reporting the claim likely factored into the insurance company’s decision.
Once the case came into our hands, we filed a lawsuit and pressed the insurance company immediately during discovery. During that process, we learned that the insurance company was using a third-party weather data source to pull aggregated data, which showed that the most recent date for sizable hail at our client’s home was 1-inch or larger hail which fell on September 19th, 2019. It seemed clear that the adjuster for the insurance company did not look at any other weather data. As a result of the tunnel vision that this report created, the insurance company then used this date as the actual date of loss.
Conveniently for the insurance company, there was a provision in the insurance policy stating that if the property damage is reported one year or 365 days after the date of loss, the insurance company can deny the claim.
In other words, with this claim the insurance company used favorable weather data from its preferred third-party vendor—apparently without checking other sources—as an excuse to move the date of loss to an earlier date. It then retroactively relied on the late reporting provision in the policy to deny the claim.
Our own investigation into the claim using other weather data sources—including the Severe Weather Data Inventory database provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, or NOAA—uncovered severe hail in the immediate area of our client’s home on April 18, 2020. This date was within the policy period prior to cancellation and within one year of when the claim was reported, meaning that the late reporting provision did not apply.
When confronted with conflicting data, the insurance company initially stood its ground, believing its weather data as gospel. But our negotiating position had been improved and we were able to steer the case into mediation quickly. In mediation, we were able to get the insurance company to agree to a settlement that was favorable for our client and would allow him to complete the repairs to his home.
We are proud to say this case ended in a good recovery for our client and righted a wrong by the insurance company.
Many disputed wind and hail claims depend heavily on documenting and proving that severe weather impacted an insured’s property on a particular date. Insurance companies will use their own preferred third-party vendors to obtain data as part of their investigation, sometimes even consulting multiple services but only providing the insured with the data that supports the insurance company’s position. Our firm is very familiar with this tactic and frequently resolves cases where these issues are involved.
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If your home or business was damaged by a wind or hailstorm and your insurance claim has been denied, delayed, or underpaid, call the expert property litigation attorneys at the Chad T. Wilson Law Firm today. Maximize your settlement and make the insurance company pay.