A fire is a devastating event. As many of our neighbors recently discovered as a result of the destructive fires in Reno in November 2011 (Caughlin Fire) and January 19, 2012 (Washoe Drive Fire), fire victims often feel lucky they have insurance. Unfortunately, because a fire claim can be very costly, many insurance companies find a reason to deny a fire loss claim. In Nevada, insurance companies have a duty to look for reasons to accept and pay the claim.
Insurance companies have been known to falsely accuse their insured’s of arson or insurance fraud to get out from paying the claim. An example of this tactic is the case of O’Neil v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., No. 10C869 (Tenn., Hamilton Co. Cir. Nov. 10, 2011). In that case, Norma O’Neal sustained financial losses when much of her house burned in a Christmas tree fire. She filed a homeowner’s claim with her homeowner’s insurance company seeking $586,000 in replacement damages and compensation for her living expenses. Nationwide denied O’Neal’s claim. Nationwide claimed the fire was set intentionally by O’Neal’s family members. O’Neal hired a fire investigator, who found evidence an electrical malfunction at a receptacle on the wall next to the Christmas tree started the fire. Despite this discovery, Nationwide still denied the claim. O’Neal sued Nationwide, alleging bad faith breach of contract. A Tennessee jury awarded O’Neal approximately $784,700 in damages.
Another tactic employed by insurance companies is to delay or deny payment because the insured cannot produce documents destroyed in the fire.
We are familiar with the tactics insurance companies employ to avoid paying fire claims or to minimize payments to preserve their profits. Our attorneys will review your case, challenge insurance companies who act in bad faith, and advocate for you to receive the full amount of insurance benefits you are entitled. If you are the victim of insurance bad faith, we will zealously seek all appropriate damages to which you may be entitled.
If you are having insurance problems or you believe your insurance company is treating you unfairly, contact your Leverty & Associates Law Chtd., at (775) 322-6636 for a FREE CONSULTATION.