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Jason M. Cieri focuses his practice of law in the areas of first party property damage cases and insurance agent negligence. He is a former Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor working in the appellate, juvenile, pre-indictment court and a trial lawyer before the Honorable Judge Frederick Theemling. He uses the experience gained while working in the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office to defend those who were cheated by their insurance companies from the monies they deserve.
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We’ve all seen it before. The insured files a claim, the insurance company sends out an adjuster to adjust the loss, the loss is more complex, or a situation arises that the adjuster cannot handle so the insurance company forwards the claim to their legal department. At that point, an attorney becomes involved and the adjustment of the claim, as well as the communication between the parties is limited and calculated.
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Due to the insurance carriers delay, deny defend tactics, my homeowner clients are often put into the precarious position of selling their property during the pendency of the claim. The question I’m always asked at that point it, “how will the sale of my property affect my claim?” I usually go into an explanation about actual cash value versus replacement cost value and that generally your only entitled to actual cash value because you’re selling the home and won’t have an opportunity to repair and recover the depreciated amount. Then I explain that even your actual cash value is not guaranteed unless its expressly stated in the bill of sale that you are entitled to any and all insurance proceeds. If necessary, it’s also beneficial to note the price of the property has been reduced to account for the loss and the anticipated proceeds. Without these safeguards in place, you risk selling your property at a deflated value and losing your ability to sue for the proceeds.
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Feenix Parkside LLC owed a commercial building that incurred a partial collapse to their ceiling. When Feenix sought coverage for the collapse, the insurer—Berkley North Pacific—denied coverage for the loss. When Feenix reported the loss, they stated the collapse was due to decay, which was a gradual decline in strength and soundness.
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The mission of the Connecticut Insurance Department is consumer protection. The Department carries out its mission by enforcing state insurance laws to ensure policyholders are treated fairly, by providing assistance, outreach, and education to help consumers make sound choices, and by regulating the industry in a fair and consistent manner that fosters market competition for availability of insurance.
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The Massachusetts Consumer Service Department responds to inquiries and assists consumers in resolving insurance complaints against insurers, producers and other licensees. Consumer Services also advises consumers of their options and rights under their policies, state laws and regulations. They maintain a database which has an inventory of all written complaints and inquiries received from the public.
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Easthampton Congregational Church submitted an insurance claim to Church Mutual Insurance Company when their roof suddenly collapsed. Church Mutual denied coverage for faulty construction after they sent their engineer, Joseph Malo, out to inspect the property. Mr. Malo noted, and the insured agreed, there was “progressive failure of the fasteners used to attach the layers of the ceiling to the ceiling joists due to the weight of the ceiling” which eventually caused the collapse.
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In March of 2017, I wrote a blog post about the crumbling foundations in Connecticut due to a concrete company, J.J. Mottes & Company, using concrete that contained pyrrhotite, that cause the concrete to lose integrity and collapse. Many insurance companies have been denying these claims for various reasons. One insured, Lawrence and Karen Cockill, sought to have their claim against Nationwide covered by arguing that the structural integrity of the concrete was diminished due to a “chemical reaction.”1
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