Exterior damage caused by neighbor's house fire-my insurance pays

nancitaApril 6, 2012

I am a bit in shock. One week exactly after we closed on our new home, the house behind us burned and was taken down that night to avoid any possible caused by sparks, etc.. The entire siding on the back of our house is melted with other minor items.

The adjuster said we would have to use our deductible ($2500!) and our insurance company would reimburse for repair/replacement because it was determined the neighbor's fire was not intentionally set or faulty wiring was not installed. It was, however, due to old wiring with a pile of wood next to the wiring.

I still cannot believe that our insurance has to cover damage cause by someone else's"fault". We live in MA and have had homeowners for almost 30 years with not not one claim. Will my premium go up? Unreal!

I would go after my neighbor, but being the new kids on the block, we don't think that would go over very well.

Any thought, please?


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Yep - welcome to the wacky world of insurance.

And yeah, your premiums could go up.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 11:51AM
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Yep, that's the way it works. I would get your own contractor out to give you an estimate on the costs involved. If the amount comes in slightly over your deductible, you may want to consider paying the damages yourself. If your getting a claim free discount you may lose it and if you do it could be 3-5 years getting it back. Some companies will also surcharge the policy as well. You might want to run it by your agent first. Also, gone are the days of wrapping/matching siding. Insurance companies aren't doing that like they used to. If the damage is to the back of the house and you claim it, that may be all they will do. In other words, don't expect them to match it to the 3 other sides unless they are damaged as well. $2500 deductible is pretty high.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 4:27PM
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I just moved back to MA and bought this house. Went with the $2500 deductible. When can I change that very bad mistake?
Still can't believe it. My neighbor's house is completely gone and he will rebuild, probably with a $500 deductible. He'll get a brand new house and I'm getting siding that probably won't match? Not that I would want to trade places and have no home, but...really?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 8:13PM
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That's why I hate insurance companies. About 20 years ago, we arranged for our elderly mother-in-law's bills to come to our address. Then we filed one house insurance claim, for a small fire caused when a painter placed a lamp near our sofa. It tipped over and scortched the couch. We filed a claim and got $700 for a new sofa. Seemed like a great payment at the time. But our policy when to "Underwriting" at renewal time and they just about doubled our rate. It has never gone down. And then we had more trouble with car insurance. I got two tickets, I had an accident and so did our daughter. At renewal time, they said our driving records were so bad they wouldn't renew. So we had to scramble to find another company. The second company, of course, knew about the tickets, accidents and non-renewal, so they are charging us an arm and a leg. I HATE insurance!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 10:03AM
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Statistically, having a higher deductible is WAY cheaper. Sure, the once-ever-30-year claim costs more, but you pay less every month. Also, it would be NUTS to file a claim for anything in the $500 range anyway. You'll lose that much in higher premiums in the next year.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 4:36PM
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I don't get anyone "hating insurance companies". Yes, I sell insurance but I like many others can't afford to self insure. Yes, the higher the deductible, the lower the premiums. Today's average here in the midwest is $1,000 deductible. Given all the catastrophies we've suffered here due to high winds and hail in the past few years, even that amount should be revisited. Insurance companies have allot of old policies on the books, those policies are not keeping up with the times. For years people used and the insurance companies allowed it, their homeowner's policies for maintaining thier homes. I don't know how many calls I take on a weekly basis for a new roof due to age. The average roof in this area is 10-14k. Talk to your agents, do a policy review and ask them what can be done to decrease premiums. They are your advocate and if your not satisfied with the answer, ask for another agents opinion. As far as going to underwriting, your policy was flagged for review after the accident. Then they pulled your driving records and found the tickets. Statistically insurance companies don't want to see more than 1 incident in three years per operator. For homeowners, 1 claim in 3 years. After a claim you can expect to lose a claim free discount and perhaps get a surcharge for the claim. Generally that will be with you for 5 years.
FYI, changing the mailing address can look as if the house is not occupied. Unless when you make the arrangement your agent narrates the policy so that upon renewal review the underwriters know better and can ask the agent for clarification. Unoccupied homes are becoming a very big risk as are secondary residences and investment properties. Allot can happen when the property is empty.
Also, many companies are now doing inspections at renewal especially on homes that have been on the books for years. They are looking at the roofs, siding, cracks in the driveways, windows, tree hazards and signs of vacancy.
That's just my input, I've been doing this for almost 15 years.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 10:15AM
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When you refer to "the adjuster", is this your adjuster or theirs? I would not take advice from their adjuster whose goal is to pay out as little as possible. I would get a copy of the fire report and have an expert look it over.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 10:51PM
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It was our adjuster who gave us the bad news. I spent over two weeks trying to get that fire report and finally asked our adjuster to call the FD. Must have been a long-ish report because the adjuster referred to the cause as being listed on page 5 of the report.
It seems that my neighbor who had the misfortune to have his house burn down is related to the Fire Chief. May or may not matter but my neighbor is definitely known in the community.
Still cannot believe it.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 1:10AM
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Sorry for saying I "hate" insurance. I realize it's necessary for many reasons. My sister's dog bit a neighbor's child in the face, he was airlifted to a hospital and needed plastic surgery. The neighbor sued my sister and her household insurance policy covered the kid's bills. I was very pleased, when I had a car accident in June 2010 that my auto insurance paid for a year younger car with a hybrid engine and GPS. So I shouldn't resent paying for premiums. And I do understand, hey, if you take a chance on not having your house burn down and choose a $2500 deductible, your rates will certainly be lower. I just, in my fantasy head, think insurance should cover everything carte blanche, and not cost a lot. I guess I just got over-emotional and had to put in my own two cents.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 9:19AM
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It is one of those necessary evils and something that if we all paid more attention to would service us well. It's been abused in the past and every day I still see customers continue to try and abuse it. If I didn't have a calendar in front of me I could always tell when it was tax season. People try the craziest things and don't even let me begin on the "missing jewelry" claims. Glad it worked out for your sister and for you when it was needed most.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 9:45AM
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I wish people would stop being under the impression that INSURANCE companies are the law. THEY'RE NOT!

Your house got damaged because of your neighbor? Then you can sue YOUR neighbor, and then YOUR Neighbor's policy reimburses HIM. People "go through insurance companies" as routine because they like to stay out of courts.

If you DO go through your own company, then your own company can subrogate against your neighbor.

And if you don't feel comfortable because of being the "new kid on the block" then you'll have to eat your loss.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 7:35PM
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"I wish people would stop being under the impression that INSURANCE companies are the law. THEY'RE NOT! Your house got damaged because of your neighbor? Then you can sue YOUR neighbor, and then YOUR Neighbor's policy reimburses HIM. "

I'm glad to read this. I met a man who said a tree on his property fell over and smashed his neighbors garage. The poor neighbor had to use his insurance to fix it.

Doesn't seem fair.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 10:48AM
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Unless the tree that fell was known to be diseased or otherwise unsafe, the neighbor is responsible, not the property owner with the tree. That's just the way it is.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:01PM
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"Your house got damaged because of your neighbor? Then you can sue YOUR neighbor, and then YOUR Neighbor's policy reimburses HIM. People "go through insurance companies" as routine because they like to stay out of courts. "

Sure, you can sue for anything. Whether you can collect from the neighbor's policy or not is a totally different matter. The law deals with negligence. If the neighbor had a sick tree, knew about it but did nothing, then the neighbor is negligent. But if the neighbor owned a willow tree that blows down in a storm, there's no way you'll collect.

Put the shoe on the other foot and think about it for a minute. Would you want to be responsible for something you didn't know anything about and had no way to prevent?

This law is nothing new and has nothing to do with insurance companies being greedy. This is common law and dates from Medieval England.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 11:47AM
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Speaking of a law suit, you may want to file a claim against your neighbor in Small Claims Court. They don't cost a lot of money to file, you don't need (to be or pay)a lawyer, you will have the opportunity to speak to the judge and show any evidence. If your nieighbor fails to respond to the suit, you automatically win. My husband has filed 2 Small Claims suits in his life and won both of them. It is an avenue worth exploring.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Small claims is the way to go. Your demeanor goes a long way with a judge, don't interrupt, talk to him not the person you are suing.

I have sued 3 renters in small claims over 20 years and one future renter sued me. I won all but the one where I was sued. She backed out of renting the place after she put down a deposit of $200. I would have returned her deposit right away but she wrote me a threatening letter telling me if I didn't return her the deposit in 10 days she would sue me. Well, that did not set to well with me. A landlord has 30 days to return the deposit in this state. I waited 2 weeks and returned 3/4ths of it. I kept $50. for what she cost me. She won, but only $8. The judge was very pleased with me and told me so.....for giving part of the deposit back, he helped me with what she cost me. I owed her $8. and he may her pay the court costs which were $13. Changed my opinion of the judicial system for the better.

This post was edited by EmmaR on Thu, Oct 10, 13 at 12:43

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 12:37PM
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I am going to guess that this might be settled, as it happened a year and a half ago...

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 6:27PM
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Yeah, the OP probably went to the owner of the house that burned and collected from his insurance.

My wife used to be a claims supervisor for an insurance company and when I showed this thread to her she said that's what the OP should have done in the first place. The other guy's insurance pays for all the damage to surrounding properties.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 7:22PM
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I would think so.

Another thread I forgot to check the date on.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 8:29PM
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