The Value of a Second Opinion as to Roof and Other Property Damages

There is great value in obtaining a second opinion and hiring experienced property insurance counsel to negotiate your claim. Here’s a success story about a recently settled case.

In January of 2014, my client’s commercial building in Shreveport, Louisiana was badly damaged by severe wintry weather. High winds, temperatures below 20 degrees, and hail caused the roof to leak and a water pipe to burst. Intruding water damaged the interior carpeting, drywall, and ceiling tiles. One of the building’s tenants had to move out due to the severe damage.

Being a good business man, my client had purchased property insurance on the building. So he thought everything would be taken care of by his insurance carrier, Bankers Insurance Group. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

The insurance adjuster did not initially go onto the roof because he claimed that the roof was too wet. The carrier denied the roof damage claim altogether, remarkably claiming that the damage was not caused by the storm. It only paid for a fraction of the business interruption loss and interior damages. A big reason for this is that Bankers had bad information. The adjuster Bankers sent out did not thoroughly investigate the claim and created a low estimate of the repairs.

For nearly a year, my client negotiated with the insurance carrier and even supplied contractor’s estimates in order to further document the damage. Yet, Bankers Insurance Group continued to delay, deny, and underpay the claim.

In due course, my client hired a plaintiffs oriented New Orleans law firm I work with, Irpino Law Firm. They brought me in as co-counsel. Normally, the first thing I do when hired to negotiate a property insurance claim is dispatch an independent insurance adjuster to investigate the loss and make an independent estimate of repairs. In this case, though, there was a chance the statute of limitations was about to expire. So I worked with the attorneys at Irpino Law firm and drafted and filed a lawsuit in the federal court in Baton Rouge, the Middle District of Louisiana. Here is a copy if you’re want to see an example insurance bad faith lawsuit. 20141218BadFaithLawsuit_Redacted (I redacted my client’s information for privacy reasons.)

After we filed suit and interrupted the statute of limitations, I dispatched an experienced independent insurance professional to the building to give a second opinion as to the damages. He documented the roof damages and found hidden interior damages. Armed with that report, and the lawsuit showing that the law entitled my client to a supplemental payment on his claim, I approached Bankers to negotiate the claim. Bankers could see that the first adjuster’s estimate omitted a significant amount of damages. Plus, we provided an independent roofing report showing that part of the roof was damaged by the winter storm.

Fortunately, we were able to reach a settlement agreement with Bankers within a few weeks. Both sides came out ahead. My client gets the money he needs to repair his property and Bankers Insurance Group closes out a claim and does right by its policyholder.