Lawyers handling hail damage claims have to prove the claim. This is illustrated in a Southern District of Texas case styled, Faustina Ortiz v. United States Liability Insurance Group, et al.
Ortiz owns a restaurant in Conroe, Texas. He had a policy of insurance with United that provided coverage for windstorms and hailstorms wherein the policy period was from January 26, 2016, to January 26, 2017. On August 23, 2016, a claim was filed with United asserting that on May 26, 2016, a hailstorm caused extensive damage to the building and walls.
United’s adjuster inspected the building on September 6. He photographed and found (1) deterioration, (2) poor maintenance, (3) numerous gaps in the roof, and (4) earlier repairs.
United then hired an engineer to respect the restaurant. This inspection was conducted on October 17. The engineer found no evidence consistent with wind or hail damage. The engineer discovered the property suffered from long-term damage caused by rot, cracked walls and ceilings, bad drainage, and moisture stains – all existing before the storm. The engineer included a weather report of conditions in Conroe since 2006, which shows no hailstorm within ten miles of the restaurant on May 26th. The only hailstorms found in Conroe occurred before United insured the building. Based on the finding and all the evidence seen thus far, United denied the claim.
The Court pointed out that the policy required Ortiz to “promptly” notify United of a claim and that Ortiz waited three months to file her claim.
The Court went on to say that even if the damage had been reported on time, it would not have been covered. The building was old and had been poorly maintained. Ortiz presented no evidence that the damage reported was the result of wind or hail. The damage found by the adjuster was attributable to rot, cracked walls and ceilings, and other seriously deferred maintenance.
Ortiz is unable to support the claim for hail damage. Ortiz provided no data to support her claim that wind or hail damaged the restaurant other than telling the Court to perform a “quick, general search online” for Conroe weather data. Even this convenient, extrinsic information contradicts Ortiz’s claims.
Ortiz still, has provided nothing other than conclusory statements. Ortiz provides no data supporting her position nor does she produce a single datum rebutting United’s report. On line reports of hail in surrounding areas does not prove hail damage to the restaurant.
The Court granted summary judgement in favor of United.