Insurance companies may turn against policyholders

A fire can have a devastating impact on a person's life. In its aftermath, an individual may be left without a home or business, and the fire may have destroyed many prized possessions stored within the property itself. Those who have fire insurance may be able to get help rebuilding their homes and their lives after such an event. However, an insurance company might try to claim that a policyholder committed arson and is not entitled to a payout.

In many cases, an insurance company will have a private fire investigator determine the cause of the blaze. This person likely represents the interests of the provider as opposed to the insured homeowner. He or she may try to claim that a fire was intentionally set based on burn patterns or other subjective evidence. This may be true even if there was no evidence of a flammable liquid or other suspicious activity prior to the fire occurring.

Wildfire insurance claims continue to rise

Many people around the country are likely aware of some of the deadly fires that claimed lives and property in California in 2017 and 2018. This has caused insurance costs to soar for some homeowners.

Insurance claims related to wildfires that swept through the state in November 2018 are the costliest in state history at more than $12 billion. Prior to that, the highest costs were in connection with wildfires in late 2017. Those led to insurance claims of over $11.8 billion. According to California's insurance commissioner, the department has been keeping records of policies that were not renewed to assess where this tends to be happening. A representative from the American Property Casualty Insurance Association says that insurers remain committed to working in the state, which is one of its largest markets. Insurers are required by California law to notify people as to what their other options are if they refuse to renew a policy.

New U.S. Court of Appeals Case Strikes Blow to Matching Claims

In 2014, SJJ won a landmark case before the Minnesota Supreme Court that required American Family Mutual Insurance Company ("American Family") to pay to repair property damage with reasonably matching building products. That case, Cedar Bluff Townhome Condominium Ass'n, Inc. v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 857 N.W.2d 290 (Minn. 2014), has been under constant attack by American Family and the insurance industry ever since.


One of the primary timing limitations found in a property insurance policy is the time limit for suit. Most residential property insurance policies in Minnesota have a time limit of only two (2) years from the date of loss. The 2-year time limit is both statutory and contract based. If a claim isn't settled and a policyholder fails to file a lawsuit (note the deadline is to file a lawsuit, not just make a claim) within that time period, the claim will likely be barred.

Signs of serious roof damage

Worried about roof damage after a major storm? Maybe your building got lashed with wind-driven rain for hours on end. Maybe hail tore into the shingles and then it started raining on top of everything else. Maybe it was the wind alone, ripping off shingles and causing damage that gives water a way to get in.

The importance of a roof cannot be overstated. There is no greater defense against the elements. When the roof suffers damage, the rest of the home quickly follows. Here are a few key signs to watch out for:

Hail damage on pace to hit all-time high in 2019

According to insurance experts, 2019 is shaping up to be the worst year on record for hail damage in the United States. As of mid-April, there have already been 664 hailstorms reported, which is more than were reported in all of 2018. In addition, April, May and June are typically when most hailstorms occur, so this year's total will almost certainly increase.

Hail damage to people, livestock, homes, vehicles, crops and other forms of property now costs the U.S. economy around $22 billion each year. Hailstones the size of baseballs are increasingly common, and a half-pound hailstone the size of a grapefruit fell from the sky in Alabama earlier this year. While dime-sized hailstones can travel at up to 20 mph, one the size of a baseball can hit people, animals, or objects at up to 120 mph, causing major damage. Experts say it's rare for hail to kill people, but it can cause injuries. In fact, Texas experiences more hailstorms than any other state in the country, and its residents sometimes don football and cycling helmets to protect themselves when they see a storm coming. However, the biggest hailstorm casualties tend to be vehicles and homes, which often suffer damage to their windows and roofs.

Colorado Bad Faith Claims

Under Colorado common law, insurance companies owe a duty of good faith and fair dealing to their insureds. When an insurer acts in bad faith, it breaches this implied duty of good faith and fair dealing and a claimant can take legal action against it. To succeed, a claimant must prove that the insurance company unreasonably delayed and/or denied payment of a claim and did so with knowledge or reckless disregard that its actions were unreasonable.

The stunning financial impact of hail between 2013 and 2017

When hail strikes in a ferocious storm, it often doesn't last long. People quickly duck inside to wait it out. When they emerge, though, they may find lasting damage that poses an incredible financial cost. Even a short storm can be absolutely devastating for local property.

If you want to see what this impact looks like firsthand, let's look at the financial impact between 2013 and 2017. It's likely far more than you're expecting.

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