Insurance denial at SF condo

4 Replies | San Francisco, California

A December 2020 fire caused by a condo next door caused damage to the exterior and interior of our unit, and complex (3 units).

Our homeowner policy through nationwide rejected our claim (4 months after approving the repairs) citing that we did not have the short term rental insurance policy , and commercial exposure isn’t covered Bc we had a tenant with a 4.5 month lease. 

Prior to moving out of this property which was our primary residence,  we reached out to our insurance broker - told him about the 4.5 month renter, and he said we didn’t have to change our policy. Our intent was to move back in January 2021, but due to covid rates in SF we decided to lease out the property long term and signed a lease with long term tenants through 2022. 

Currently, repair costs to the inside of our unit and deck are around $45k, including loss of rental income. Our HOA's insurance has paid for the claim for the exterior of our unit.

Tenant who caused the fire - didn’t have renters insurance. The insurance of the landlord of that building denied responsibility.

After our homeowner policy denied our claim, we're not sure what to do next. 

What does the policy say? Did they deny you after 30 days from the incident? Do not take a "final settlement" from the HOA, they may have more coverage. What caused the fire? Was a worker sweating a plumbing pipe? Did someone accidentally cause the fire? Do you have the fire departments reports in writing? I believe you have not fought hard enough for what is fair. Was the building unsafe to start? Do you have anything in an email or text with the broker? I'm fishing for deep pockets.

@Caroline Gerardo thanks for the questions! 

- we have emails from the broker, when we asked him whether we needed to update our policy to cover our short term tenant.

- fire report has the neighbors tenant fire starting from organic materials on the porch - their porch was on fire and spread up and was flames licked our building - the firefighters came into our unit and broke the walls to fight the fire 

- we have no official denial from our home owners policy yet, the agent called us two weeks ago to let us know our claim is being denied but officially still says pending on website. 




What does the policy say? Did they deny you after 30 days from the incident? Do not take a "final settlement" from the HOA, they may have more coverage. What caused the fire? Was a worker sweating a plumbing pipe? Did someone accidentally cause the fire? Do you have the fire departments reports in writing? I believe you have not fought hard enough for what is fair. Was the building unsafe to start? Do you have anything in an email or text with the broker? I'm fishing for deep pockets.

Insurance company was required by California law to notify you in 39 days from the incident and must communicate every 30 days as to status. You agreed to accept email? They denied the claim on day what? The broker and his license have some responsibility in the claim by misinforming you about coverage and there is some $ there. The neighbor's what kind of organic stuff? Did they leave lighter fluid and some rags? The neighbor's HO6 policy is also to blame. Does the tenant have any assets? It's time to get an attorney involved. You will need to sue everyone- broker, HOA, neighbor, tenant, whoever made the material that was on the patio, and more. Hiring an attorney will cost money, but in the end your insurance will pay him/her. I suggest you talk to Joseph Ferrucci an attorney who I respect.