Substantial savings in moldy mobile home case

Substantial savings in moldy mobile home case

Source: Beazley Pro, Summer 2013

Facts:
A customer alleged that her HVAC contractor failed to reconnect the ventilation system in her doublewide trailer during servicing. As a result, she said, mold and mildew developed in the attic and wall cavities of the trailer.

Discussion:
The plaintiff’s initial demand exceeded $150,000 and included the contractor tearing out and replacing all of the trailer’s interior walls, ceilings, floors and fixtures. Beazley, which provided Contractor’s Pollution Liability Insurance for the defendant, engaged two experts who uncovered that the water intrusion and moisture that led to the mold and mildew was due in part to vulnerabilities in the exterior envelope of the trailer. The contractor’s general liability carrier initially attempted to deny any payment on the claim; later it offered a nominal contribution of $3,000. Beazley pursued the general liability insurer for contribution and eventually obtained payment of $25,000 from the general liability carrier and settled the matter for $65,000, a fraction of the initial demand.

Lessons learned:
Bringing best-in-class resources to bear early in the claims process can make a pivotal difference in claim outcome. In this case, Beazley hired an international engineering company to do a building envelope analysis that revealed early on that areas of water intrusion unrelated to any actions by the contractor could have led to mold. This information quickly diffused the plaintiff’s demands… and led to the general liability insurer agreeing to pick up substantially more of the settlement (benefiting the insured, as it fell outside the contractor’s deductible).

 

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