On July 15, 2011, a popular sports bar and restaurant located in Clearwater, FL suffered substantial losses as a result of damage caused by a utility electric power surge. The powerful surge damaged kitchen equipment, air conditioning units, numerous high definition televisions, speaker systems, neon lights located throughout the restaurant, the “Open” sign in the front window as well as the businesses illuminated signage located on the shopping plaza directory.
Upon discovery of the damage, the business owner quickly notified his insurance company and immediately turned his attention to making temporary repairs in an effort to keep the business open. This included renting temporary power generators, hiring a specialized repairman to fix the damaged kitchen equipment, hiring a HVAC repairman to fix the air conditioning system, and finding a television repairman to diagnose the condition of the many high definition TV’s.
After the damage, the owner took additional measures to promote his business that featured live bands, popular karaoke nights and sporting events, all of which drew large crowds. However, none of his efforts succeeded. Every night the the plaza was dark, the owner personally witnessed many patrons pull into the parking lot and immediately leave when they did not see any of his businesses signs lit up. This went on for many nights and even continued after the utility company restored power to the building as the neon lights and open sign were damaged beyond repair.
The owner subsequently notified his insurance company of ensuing business interruption losses as well as the many additional expenses that were being incurred just to keep the doors open. He was also forced to cancel live bands appearances as well as upcoming promotional events that were scheduled to grow the business before the upcoming NFL season.
The insurance company assigned a Regional Claim Specialist to handle the claim. However, the adjuster who was assigned to the claim was located in Kansas. He did not make any effort to travel to Florida to personally inspect the damage and simply could not comprehend the severity of the loss from that far away. Instead the adjuster instructed the insured to keep track of all his expenses and inventory the damaged property. The insured followed the adjuster’s instructions, but when he sent him the inventory relating to the damage for food spoilage, the business owner was quickly taken back when the adjuster stated that food spoilage coverage was limited and some of the food items may not be covered. The business owner also received negative feedback from the adjuster relating to his projected loss of earnings. As a result, the owner felt his best interests were not being considered and decided to research his options.
Realizing he was beyond his insurance claims expertise and on the recommendation of a trusted associate, Public Adjuster Rick Tutwiler was hired to manage and negotiate the claim to allow the business owner to return to operating his business. Mr. Tutwiler quickly took note of the immediate issue, which was to get the “open” and various neon signage in the windows replaced so the business regained visibility from the highway. He then itemized all the interior property damages and had a local insurance adjuster assigned to handle the business property claim. Mr. Tutwiler was able to quickly reach an agreement with the local adjuster on the damaged kitchen equipment, air conditioning equipment, high definition televisions and neon lights. The owner was finally making progress.
The only part of the insurance claim that remained unresolved was the business interruption claim. Realizing that this part of the claim was the most difficult, the Regional Claim Specialist from Kansas retained his own accountant from Ohio to prepare some projections that were reportedly based off his experiences from prior claims. This tactic was confusing to the insured as no one loss is the same and each loss has its own set of specific facts.
Upon receiving the accountant’s projections, it became very clear that both parties were at an impasse. Shortly thereafter, the insured demanded the matter be resolved via the Appraisal process. The demand angered the Regional Claim Specialist who responded in an E-mail, “The carrier denies your request to move forward in Appraisal as you have withheld pertinent information and may be in violation of the insurance contract.” Knowing that he fully cooperated with every request and met with his contractual duties, the owner had an attorney file a civil remedy notice of insurer violation.
The very next week the insurance company settled his business interruption claim for an undisclosed amount.
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