underinsurance United Policyholders Staff asked 3 years ago

I lost my house in the Tubb’s Fire and I am just now getting final numbers on the rebuild cost. In 2013 my neighbors house caught on fire and damaged several of our separate structures and garage. At the time I was underinsured in my “B” coverage. I brought this up with my agent and the adjustor, who allowed me to use contents money to pay for the deficit. Now with a total loss, significantly underinsured (most in contents, “B”, and code upgrade). My house was well documented for what I had in 2013 by Farmer’s. My policy was never changed after this first loss to cover what I had. It is a replacement policy. Farmer’s just told me that because I did not specifically ask to have my coverage increased in 2013 and did not review my policy thoroughly enough to determine my underinsurance, that this is my fault. I feel that if they have documentation of the things that I had, and offered me a replacement policy, that they should have taken into account the things that they documented in 2013 and the underinsurance issue that was brought up at that time. Do I have hope in this case?? Nothing was updated or remodeled after my house was fixed last time, so the documentation in 2013 was what I still had prior to 2017. Thanks. Rachel

1 Answers
Amy Bach Amy Bach Staff answered 3 years ago

Hi Rachel, Is your current agent the same one you had when you found yourself underinsured on your B coverage and discussed that with him/her? If so, do you have any record of any of the communications around that 2013 fire/claim? Any notes, emails, etc. that would show that the agent had knowledge at that time that your insurance was inadequate to cover the value of your property but did nothing about it? If so, you may have a good argument that the agent/Farmers were negligent in failing to act on that information and recommend an increase, and should retroactively reform your policy limits to where they should have been. You’ll have to convince Farmers that they knew you were underinsured and were negligent in doing nothing about it, and that you reasonably relied on them and their agent to use their professional expertise to advise you – and that you didn’t refuse any recommended increases. You can try getting a reformation on your own, or consult with a lawyer who specializes in representing policyholders and has experience prevailing for people in your situation. We had one speak at UP’s July workshop, and there are several identified in our Underinsurance Help library. For more info on this tricky sticky topic, please check out: https://uphelp.org/underinsurance-help-were-you-lulled-into-a-false-sense-of-security-or-did-you-intentionally-underinsure-your-biggest-asset/ We so hope you prevail, it’s an awful challenge on top of a challenge. The law isn’t as strong for you as we want it to be, but with the right arguments, evidence and help, you may be able to get your limits increased.