A strip center in Tampa’s historic Ybor City caught fire destroying half of the building, a retail/manufacturing business and damaged the other section of the building rented to another tenant. The cause and origin of the fire was not suspicious, thus all the property owners needed to do was seemingly settle the claim with their insurance company. And here is where the trouble started.
It seems the insurance policy address for the insured’s property was different than the actual current address. And then there was an issue of the building having had four street numbers posted on the front while the policy had only two. The insurance company did come out and quickly followed up with a reservation of rights letter. In the meantime the carrier’s adjuster did a drive-by adjustment (photos were taken and a square foot replacement estimate was written up) and that was it.
We received a call from the property owners asking us to meet with them as they were overwhelmed with all the confusion and noise they were getting from the insurance company on the conflicts of the wrong street addresses and street numbers. After some investigation, we were able to determine this building had been built in the 1920s and somewhere along the way, the City of Tampa had changed the street name. But when the carrier wrote the policy they had the old street name as the insured location. At the meeting, the owners told us the insurance company had communicated to them that if coverage was to be extended (which was questionable given all the underwriting issues) they would be paid 50% of the loss since heavy depreciation was to be withheld given the building’s age. At the conclusion of the meeting, the owners told us other public adjusters had solicited them but we had been highly recommended. So we were retained and off we went.
While there is not enough space to cover every step and detail of this loss adjustment, we did bring in our own building consultants and prepared a detailed scope and estimate of the complete building loss, convinced the insurance carrier that they did in fact insure the property location where the fire occurred.
Finally, we did a business interruption analysis, which allowed the client to recover for their full loss of income. In the end the carrier paid policy limits for one address, a sizable ACV payment for the section of the building not initially looked at by the adjuster, the full debris removal quote and the full policy limits for the financial loss. Needless to say, our client was extremely pleased with the outcome of this adjustment.
One final note that may be of interest to our readers; over my career, fire officials in almost all claims I have been involved in will place a dollar value of what they think the loss is on their official fire incident report. It’s been my experience that any dollar figure on a fire report can in the end be underestimated by a factor of three or more! In fairness to the fire officials, they are not trained to calculate damages or arrive at replacement cost or actual cash value of an insured property loss. And rightly so, their focus is on saving lives and preventing further damage.
In closing, this client followed the advice of their friends, retained us and was able to restore their property as their insurance policy intended. I even think the insurance company may also be pleased. While they paid more money than they initially thought they may owe, there was no law suit or threats of bad faith which could have further driven up their costs.