Fire Loss Claims
There are hundreds of fires reported in Oregon each year. Many result in insurance claims for damage to buildings and personal property caused by fire, smoke, and water (from fire suppression efforts). Fires often result in insurance claims for additional living expenses. When their homes become uninhabitable, families must find substitute housing during the rebuilding process.
Fires can be well beyond inconvenient. They can involve uprooting from the family home, financial devastation, destruction of cherished family mementos, and deaths of pets or persons.
During this time of trauma, insurance investigators descend on the household or what remains of it. They ask questions that are unanswerable (“When did you buy the living room coffee table?”) They demand receipts for household furnishings when such receipts were burned to ashes. They urge you to sign contracts with “cleaning services” without telling you of astronomical charges that eat into your coverage. They do not tell you that the “cleaning services” rarely succeed in cleaning heavily damaged furnishings that should be discarded and replaced in the first instance. They present remodeling contractors who are “preferred providers” who owe their livelihood and their allegiance to the insurance industry. These providers have the incentive to complete their work at the least possible expense to the insurance company.
Finally, the insurance company adjuster (whose employer wrote the insurance contract and seeks to minimize any payout) tells you what benefits are provided and in what amount. The adjustment of your loss may vary by several hundred thousand dollars — depending on whether you take the adjuster’s word for it, or hire an independent advocate who represents your interest under the policy exclusively.
Dockins v. State Farm Insurance Company, 330 Or. 1, 997 P.2d 859 (2000). The first case in Oregon establishing a homeowner’s right to insurance coverage for cleanup of oil from underground storage tanks.
Thom Martin v. Oregon Mutual Insurance Company, Jackson County Circuit Court Case No. 09-3201-E3 (2015). The first case in Oregon establishing a business owner's right to a hearing before cancellation of a fire policy.