Erie Attorneys Tim George (left) and Eric Purchase (right) with Pastor Reuben Claudio of the Heavenly Pentecostal Mission (center).
October 8, 2012, Erie, PA — Pennsylvania insurance claims don’t always have happy endings, even if you pay your premiums and otherwise do everything you’re supposed to do. One local church found out the hard way that your insurance company isn’t always “like a good neighbor.”
Reverend Reuben Claudio is the pastor of the Heavenly Pentecostal Mission on Sassafrass Street in Erie. His calling keeps him busy. In addition to running his church and tending to his congregation, Pastor Claudio also voluntarily serves an overburdened prison ministry and travels to help distressed churches affected by natural disasters in foreign lands.
When the roof at the little church on 16th and Sassafrass failed to keep the water out this past February, Pastor Claudio knew exactly what to do. He called his insurance company to report the incident and started to clean up the mess. What he wasn’t prepared for was the adversarial response he got from his insurance company.
First, he learned what a lot of people are surprised to learn about Pennsylvania building insurance. If your roof fails, the Pennsylvania insurance policy probably won’t pay to fix it. In fact, there’s good reason why insurance doesn’t pay to fix most problems like a bad roof. After all, an insurance policy is meant to protect you from disaster, it’s not meant to substitute for regular maintenance and repair. Pastor Claudio was surprised by this but he understood it. No problem, he thought, the church needs a new roof, we’ll pay for a new roof ourselves.
In addition to the roof problems, his church now had a lot of damage from the water. The ceiling was stained and water logged. Portions needed to be removed and replaced. For a small church faced with the expense of a new roof, the additional cost of repairing the water damage was significant. Which led to the second thing Pastor Claudio learned about Pennsylvania insurance companies: as nice as they seem in their commercials, sometimes they’re just not on your side when the time comes for them to pay.
Now, let’s be clear. Most policies won’t pay to repair an old roof that just needs maintenance. However, most policies should cover the water damage that results from the roof failure. So, what did the insurance company do for the little Erie church? They sent an “independent” roof expert to the church who took a quick look at the interior damage and told Pastor Claudio there was no way the church’s insurance company was going to pay for the damage. Sure enough, the insurance company wrote Pastor Claudio shortly after the “independent” expert’s visit and told him there would be no protection offered under the Pennsylvania insurance policy for the water damage.
Fortunately, Pastor Claudio called the Erie insurance claim attorneys at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. for help. We investigated the matter and learned that the expert’s behavior was inappropriate and, more importantly, his factual conclusions were inaccurate. We presented our investigation findings to the Pennsylvania insurance company and started a dialogue. They didn’t immediately change their position but we kept at them and, finally, the Pennsylvania insurance company agreed to reimburse the little church for the cost to repair the water damage.
The takeaway? Insurance companies aren’t always fair with everyone, not even when they are dealing with their own insureds, not even when that insured is a little church just trying to get the benefits promised in their insurance policy. And sometimes having a lawyer help with your insurance claim can make all the difference in the world.
Call the Pennsylvania Insurance Attorneys Who Help
The Pennsylvania insurance lawyers at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. have experience in fighting for our clients’ rights and have demonstrated an ability to successfully go toe-to-toe with large insurance companies. If you’re looking for an experienced Erie insurance claim lawyer to help you with your Pennsylvania insurance case, call for a free consult at 814-273-2010 or toll free at 814-273-2010 or fill out our on-line consult form.