Sometimes, when a property is damaged, its value is diminished, even after repairs are performed. The complaint for this class action alleges that Integon National Insurance Company does not check properties or pay insureds for this diminution in value, against both the laws of Georgia and its own insurance policies.
Certain kinds of damage to properties can result in a permanent reduction in the properties’ value, in particular due to water damage, mold damage, fire damage, and foundation or structural damage. Even with repairs, the properties may never be considered as good as they were before the damage. For example, incidents of water damage may lead to the growth of mold inside walls, which can be difficult or impossible to fully eradicate, especially in warm, humid areas of the country.
Plaintiff Jeffrey Center’s home in Atlanta, Georgia which he insured under a Onechoice Homeowners Policy issued by Integon. The state of Georgia requires that policies that cover direct physical loss to properties include coverage for diminution of value.
On July 13, 2017, Center’s home was struck by lightning. This caused water and other damage to the inside of the house. Integon accepted Center’s claim and paid for repair services, including water extraction, mitigation, and remediation. The cost of these services was more than $70,000.
The complaint says, “Because the Policy insures against direct physical loss … it provides coverage for diminished value absent a valid exclusion for such coverage. There was no valid exclusion for such coverage” in Center’s policy at the time of his losses. The complaint says that this means Integon must either pay for the reduction in value or deny that any such reduction exists.
However, the complaint contends that Integon did not even assess the property for diminution of value. Although Center did eventually ask about it, Integon took no action. The complaint alleges that Integon does not have any mechanism set up to assess diminution of value and never does so, even though the law requires it to provide such coverage. According to the complaint, this is a breach of contract.
The class for this action is all persons formerly or currently insured under homeowners policies issued by Integon covering property in Georgia who, between June 27, 2013 and the date of class certification in this case, presented first-party claims arising from direct physical losses to their properties as a result of water damage, mold damage, fire damage, foundation damage, and/or structural damage, which events are covered by the policy, but for which Integon did not perform a diminished value assessment in connection with the claims.