A hotel owner contacted Martin & Jones about damage to his property caused by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. During the storm, his hotel suffered roof damage and other minor damage plus a loss of room rental revenue. Within weeks of the storm, double-paned windows in the hotel began to fog. Within four months, numerous windows were fogged, and additional windows continued to fog with the passage of time.
The hotel had double-pane windows, and the hotel owner believed that the high winds from Hurricane Irene allowed for water to be blown into the windows thereby causing the fogging. When the hotel owner notified the insurance company about the window fogging, he was told that his insurance policy provided only $10,000 in coverage for wind-related damage. In fact, the hotel owner had purchased two separate policies, one of which provided only $10,000 in wind coverage and the other of which provided $2,750,000. Even though the adjuster had a copy of the policy with $2.75 million in coverage in his file, he led the hotel owner to believe that the only available coverage for wind damage was from the policy with a $10,000 limit for wind damage. The hotel owner was paid approximately $51,000 for the roof damage, clean-up costs and lost room revenue and $10,000 for wind-driven rain. He was sent a check that had the following language: “For Policy Limit and Loss of RENTS” and “BUILDING FINAL.”
When a Martin & Jones attorney reviewed the policies, it was discovered that there was another $2,750,000 in wind coverage. By this time, the hotel owner had spent $1,069,000 of his own money to replace the windows in his hotel. Martin & Jones brought a claim against the insurance company for “insurance bad faith” and “unfair or deceptive trade practices.” Martin & Jones retained a nationally known expert in insurance who was the former “Director of Compliance” for one of the country’s largest insurance companies, who convincingly explained that the conduct of the insurance company here was unfair and intentionally misleading. Even though the out-of-pocket expenses were $1,069,000, the insurance carrier paid $2,000,000 to settle the case after mediation.