The Hartford is facing a class-action lawsuit from nearly 20,000 policyholders in California who allege that the insurer routinely underpays claims for damaged property. According to a news outlet, plaintiffs are accusing the insurance company of engaging in practices that involve depreciating items not subject to such reductions under the stipulations of the policy or state law. The company has also been accused of reducing the sales tax paid on replacement items.
Allegations in the Lawsuit
The class action originated from a complaint filed in 2015 concerning an early 20th Century building in San Francisco that sustained fire damage. In the original complaint, the plaintiff stated that the insurer depreciated the cost of items including plumbing, drywall, baseboards, insulation, marble and ornamental iron, often by significant amounts. For example, the complaint said that the replacement cost for plumbing was reduced by more than 42 percent while the replacement cost for marble was whittled down by 80 percent.
The Hartford filed a motion to have the class certification denied and sought summary judgment, both of which were denied by Judge William Orrick. The judge said that the measure of the damages is not the difference between the amount of money spent on repairs and what was paid out, but rather the difference between what Hartford paid out and what it should have paid them.
Not Letting Insurers Get Away
As consumer lawyers and personal injury lawyers, we see insurance companies getting away (or trying to get away) with not paying people who have been diligently paying their premiums each month. We take out insurance policies with the hope that when something unforeseen or devastating happens to us, the insurance company will step up and do the right thing and by giving us the monetary support we need to recoup our losses or in some case, rebuild our lives.
Insurance companies that act in bad faith should be held accountable and class action lawsuits are a great way to do that. These legal actions empower consumers to go after large corporations that have been involved in unethical behavior and wrongdoing. While one consumer may not have the finances to pursue a large corporation, a group of wronged consumers backed by plaintiffs’ lawyers can get the job done. As California class action attorneys, we hope that the plaintiffs in his case get the justice they deserve.