Jury Awards Burglary Victim $1.3M After Insurance Company Rejects $134K Water Damage Claim

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It’s upsetting enough to have strangers break into your house and steal a bunch of your stuff, but one California homeowner also had to deal with more than a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of water damage caused when burglars filled up the bathtub and left the tap on. But when his insurance company wouldn’t fork over the cash to cover the damages, he took his claim to court.

A jury recently ordered [PDF] Ameriprise Insurance to pay the man more than $1.3 million after refusing his 2013 claim related to water damage incurred during a burglary at his home, according to the plaintiff’s attorney. The goal was apparently to take out what the burglars thought were remote control security cameras to cover their tracks. Those cameras were actually fake.

The company started a fraud investigation within a week of the insurance filing related to the water damage claim, despite a a police report detailing the nature of the theft, the homeowner’s lawyer says.

The plaintiff — a single father of five — claimed in his lawsuit [PDF] that he was forced to find accommodations for his family for 14 months while repairs were being made to his home as part of his homeowners’ insurance policy with Ameriprise.

Those repairs weren’t enough, either, the lawsuit claimed: Ameriprise only paid for minimal water damage, mold remediation, and insufficient repairs, and at first, refused to pay for the family to live elsewhere while the claim was adjusted and repairs preformed.

Eventually the homeowner had to move back into the house, and hired lawyers to convince Ameriprise to resolve the claim.

“It’s unbelievable how my client was treated,” said his trial attorney Brian Kabateck. “This is a hard working man trying to be a good father and Ameriprise was working overtime to deny his claim without any proof or justification. The company ignored police reports, my client’s own statements and the evidence in this case, and it proved a hardship to [the plaintiff] and his entire family.”

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury ruled that Ameriprise was guilty of insurance bad faith after refusing to make the proper repairs, awarding the plaintiff $1 million in punitive damages and more than $300,000 for compensatory damages.

[h/t Daily Breeze]