the In December of 2010 the copper pipes in my home, a two family were stolen. The thieves left the water shut off from the street open so that the basement was inches deep in water when I came home and discovered the theft and damages.
My initial call, on a freezing Friday evening, involved having the standing water pumped out. A company the insurance company recommended was called and the basement was nominally dried. The cost was exorbitant, but I was told this "negotiated" price was standard and would be covered.
The problems began as i contacted services to have the pipes replaced. I could not live in my home without heat or water; nor could I rent the apartment, thereby losing my income.
I carried a low dollar on my theft insurance. After all, my tenants were told to carry renters insurance on personal possessions. The only items I believed I needed to cover for the homeowners policy would be those like lawnmowers, gardening tools, and things stored in the basement. I went over this with my insurance agent. It never occurred to me that the pipes in my home would be considered personal property and be limited to $1000 in losses, far below the money needed to replace them.
The dispute continued with no movement from the company except to demand additional estimates for things that could not be assessed without first having pipes.
The insurance company was so unresponsive that I contacted the Ohio Board of Insurance (OBI) in March of 2011. The OBI sent me letters about every six weeks saying they hadn't gotten around to reviewing the case. Finally,about five months later, a letter came that said they agreed with the Ohio Fair Plan's interpretation of the policy.
My contention is that the pipes in the home are covered under damages to the home. Pipes do not go with the property owner at sale. They are chattel and form an integral part of the dwelling. This interpretation is supported by the attorney I spoke with and my reading. The cost of disputing the ruling is beyond my means and probably futile. Insurance companies keep lawyers on staff to delay these things into oblivion. Unfair language designed to deceive the consumer is legal.
I insured with the Ohio Fair Plan because my choice was restricted due to my home's age and location, which resulted in a disconnect between it's replacement value and market value. I am the reason this insurance was developed by the governing bodies in Ohio. Now it looks like another company designed to help the consumer is being manipulated to withhold benefits from the people it was created to serve.
I ended up negotiating a settlement for the other parts of the claim by agreeing to halve the amount due for loss of income and alternate living expenses so that I could pay for the pipes and return to my home. I was desperate and the company counted on this to settle the claim.
If there is any way to recoup my losses, please let me know. If there is a class action suit against this company, I would like to participate. If there is any way you can insure your property through another company, I recommend you do so.