• Bob Siems

S.C. & V.C. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, MIA No. 27-1001-10-00028 (January 3, 2011).

Insurer failed to produce all required documents and lost by default.

The MIA found that Liberty Mutual acted in bad faith because it failed to submit a copy of its claims log to the MIA. Liberty Mutual therefore lost by default.

Plaintiff purchased a homeowner’s insurance policy from Liberty Mutual with a term of June 28, 2008 to June 28, 2009. The policy provided “dwelling A” coverage of $337,200. On June 25, 2009, a hailstorm damaged the roof of Plaintiff’s home and garage. (Op. 4.)

An adjusted went to Plaintiff’s home. He said he did not see any damage to the siding, guttering, or downspouts. He could not get on the roof itself, but he found no damage on the garage roof. The adjuster came back a week later and inspected the upper roof. The adjuster did not believe the damage was caused by the hailstorm. Liberty Mutual denied coverage and closed the file on June 7, 2010. (Op. 4-5).

Plaintiffs got their own opinion that said there was hail damage to the tune of $10,233 on July 12. They asked Liberty Mutual to cover it. Liberty Mutual declined, citing its own inspections. (Op. 5.) After being pressed, Liberty Mutual asserted that the estimated damage was $239, and not covered anyway. (Op. 5-6.)

The Plaintiff filed a complaint with the MIA alleging the absence of good faith. They filed a complaint with one exhibit. Liberty Mutual responded with an incomplete file. It included its claim log, but did not include copies of all required documents or correspondence. (Op. 6.)

The MIA found based on the incomplete record that Liberty Mutual acted without good faith. It found no evidence of multiple inspections. Rather, it found an aborted inspection, an adjuster-inspection, and a ladder rented from a company that also did inspections. Liberty Mutual referred to a report from their roofing contract and a report from its second inspection, but since those documents were not in the record, the MIA did not consider them. The MIA found that these facts “along with the negative inference that may be drawn from Liberty Mutual’s failure to produce the required documents,” supported finding an absence of good faith. (Op. 8-9.)

The MIA awarded Plaintiff $10,233.42 in damages based on the incomplete record. (Op. 9.)

Plaintiff requested and received $800 in attorney’s fees. (Op. 10.)

#CaseLaw #InsuranceBadFaith #MarylandInsuranceAdministration #BadFaithBadLawyering #BadFaithInsurerDefault #HomeownersInsurance

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