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Opinion

Tornado victims deserve fair compensation for loss of value


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Apr. 16, 2021 - 3:42 PM

I hope this information may be helpful to the people who had insured property damaged by the tornado a few weeks ago.

By now, you should have notified your insurance company of your damage, your insurance company should have investigated the damage, and it should have provided you an estimate of the cost to return your property to the condition it was in prior to the tornado.

Like me, as I had property damaged, you may have also received a check from your insurance company to pay for this work. Presumably, also like me, the estimate and check you received did not include any compensation associated with the reduction in value your property experienced due to the tornado.

Of note, the insurance company will pay additional compensation for items not included in the initial estimate or check if properly and timely supported through additional documentation/information.

Certainly, some of the houses in the various neighborhoods off of LaGrange Street and Smokey Road have experienced a reduction in value even assuming the appropriate repairs are made to the houses – due to, among other reasons, significant tree and landscape damage/loss.

Truly and sadly, some neighborhoods look materially different now compared to their appearance before the tornado.

Georgia law allows “diminution in value” (reduction in value) to be a recoverable loss under your homeowner’s policy even if it is not a defined loss within the policy. Royal Capital Development, LLC vs. Maryland Casualty Company, 291 Ga 262 (2012).

Stated another way, in addition to the cost associated with repairing the direct physical loss of or damage to your home, your insurance company should pay you for any reduction in the value of your home caused by the tornado.

Ask yourself – would you pay the same amount of money for your home after your home is repaired compared to what you would have paid for it immediately prior to the tornado?

In proving such a reduction in value, it may be helpful to obtain an affidavit from a local real estate agent or appraiser containing an opinion as to what your home could be sold for now (fully repaired) compared to what it could have sold for before the storm.

This affidavit, along with other information or documentation, should be provided to your insurance company to support your position. This argument may assist you in obtaining an additional amount of money (perhaps a significant amount) from your insurance company. This argument also applies to similar damage sustained to your automobile. You should not need a lawyer to assist you with this process unless the insurance company refuses to pay what you feel is fair compensation for the loss of value.

Remember, you, as a party to the insurance contract, have various duties under the contract, and some of those duties are time-sensitive. If the duties are not timely performed by you, you may waive your ability to enforce those rights against the insurance company.

Also, if you have additional items or loss you want the insurance company to pay for, make sure you do not negotiate any check(s) you receive from your insurance company that are being paid in full satisfaction of all of your claims. Read your policy carefully and contact your insurance agent if you have any questions or concerns.

Again, I provide this information with the sole intent that may be helpful to some people, as I am currently dealing with this same issue.

As someone born and raised in Newnan, I am proud of our community’s response to this unfortunate event, and I hope the damage caused by the tornado can soon be fully repaired and compensated.

Taylor Drake

Newnan