One of the more annoying issues that I have to contend with on a weekly basis is the drill of having to jump through the hoops erected by the myriad of Brand X E and O insurance companies that home inspectors latch onto that seem to be designed to thwart my efforts to prevent them from committing suicide and taking the home inspector along for the ride.
I call them UIs [you eyes] because I have never heard of the vast majority of these companies and that was the term that we used in the military to refer to enemy units whose identity was unknown. They were “unidentifiable”. Hence the acronym “UI”.
An inspector out West, who is insured by one of these UIs, recently contacted me to respond to a claim being made by one of his clients over an inspection that he conducted.
It almost never rains where this inspection took place and the inspector noted that the ceiling of the home had recently been painted, thus, making it impossible to ascertain with any certainty whether there were any prior issues with the property’s roof. The inspector did note a number of other issues which his client used to exact substantial concessions from the seller.
After the client moved in, the area got an uncharacteristically severe storm and the property sustained some water penetration. The client, who was a lawyer, had other issues with the property that were unrelated to the inspector’s conduct, and he wrote the Mother of All Demand Letters to the Seller, the Real Estate Agent and Broker and the Inspector. It was 11 pages long and had multiple appendices. A real megillah. And, unlike the overwhelming majority of demand letters that I see, it was very well written, very nearly, in fact, the equal of my work product.
I’m sure that he expected to get a check by return mail. Instead he got a letter from me telling him that his claim against the inspector, at least, had no merit; that the inspector was not negligent and had, in fact, found issues that resulted in vast concessions from the seller; that the claimant was himself contributorily negligent; that, under applicable law, economic loss was not recoverable in tort; that he had no damages; and that even if he had damages his recovery would be limited to the amount of the inspection fee.
And I can never resist telling these overreaching nitwits that, notwithstanding the fact that the inspector had no responsibility for their troubles, he had nevertheless magnanimously offered to refund the inspection fee, an extravagantly generous gesture, in light of his having no liability whatsoever, “which you foolishly rejected.” Left unsaid, the “foolish reject[ion]” terminates the refund offer.
Nine days later, I got a call from the Seller’s attorney who told me that my letter had really infuriated the attorney-claimant who apparently fancies himself as someone to be reckoned with. In the event, the seller’s attorney told me that the seller and the real estate agent were going to try to settle the matter and wanted to know if I would participate in the conference with this attorney-claimant.
I told him that I would love to but that, to prevent my client’s UI insurance company from invalidating his insurance coverage, I would have to contact it to get clearance.
That’s when the nightmare begins. First I call the agent and tell him that I’ve been engaged to squash a ridiculous claim, that I wrote a letter giving chapter and verse why the inspector is resisting the claim and that, unlike this UI insurer that he put the inspector with, I won’t be leading with my chin in this negotiation.
Well now, the agent has to get the inspector’s “permission” to advise the UI insurer, all the while advising the inspector how this may adversely affect his coverage and premium.
The inspector, of course, is wondering how this UI insurer’s handling of the claim will adversely affect his wallet, given his $5,000 deductible. And, having a $5,000 deductible, he likes his chances with me where he’s likely to walk away unscathed versus his chances with UI Insurance Company where it is a mortal certainty that he will lose his deductible and have a chargeable claim on his record.
I just heard from the seller’s attorney that the settlement conference with the claimant is scheduled for next Wednesday.
Let’s hope that the UI insurer gets back to me in a timely fashion with something resembling a game plan.
I’m not holding my breath.
Meanwhile, I told the inspector to deep six the UI insurer at renewal and get with the Lockton Program so he’ll never again have to beg his insurer not to squander his deductible.Already a ClaimsAcademy Member? Log In Register for Joe’s FREE ClaimsAcademy Video Tips Protect Yourself with ClaimIntercept Joe’s Law and Disorder Seminar is Available Online! Receive a Perfected Pre-Inspection Agreement