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Heyl Royster

 

Practices

ARSON, FRAUD AND FIRST-PARTY PROPERTY CLAIMS

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First-Party Property claims, whether involving fire, natural disaster, arson, fraud or the myriad other issues presented require special experience and handling.

Our lawyers have a long history of representing insurers in litigation, pre-litigation and claim assistance.

Whether the claim concerns a residential or commercial fire, storm, or theft - anywhere in Illinois - we have likely handled a similar claim in the past.

We provide coverage opinions, evaluate potential subrogation claims, guide the legal aspects of investigations, obtain examinations under oath, and when required, defend lawsuits.

Our geographic locations from the southern part of the state near St. Louis to the northern part of the state in Rockford and Chicago makes us uniquely situated to act quickly to assess situations around the state and provide prompt, efficient and cost-effective representation.

Representative Clients

Erie Insurance Group

Auto-Owners Insurance Company

Country Financial

State Farm Insurance Companies

Significant Cases

  • Mr. Z v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of Peoria County, Illinois (2016) An insured claimed that his pipe had burst in his rental property causing a significant loss. The insurer denied the claim after learning that the insured had failed to maintain heat and/or winterize the pipes as required by the insurance policy. The insured offered several new theories for the loss which were ultimately proven false by testimony of various witnesses and utility providers. As a result, summary judgment was granted by the trial court finding that the policy exclusion applied and that the insurance company did not act in bad faith.
  • Ms. B v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of Tazewell County, Illinois (2017) Plaintiffs’ insurance policy lapsed after failing to make timely premium payments. Twenty-one hours after the policy had lapsed, a fire destroyed plaintiffs’ home. Plaintiffs paid their insurance premiums immediately following the fire. The defendant insurer advised the insured that the policy was not in force on the day of the fire and refunded a portion of the premium. Plaintiffs filed suit for breach of contract and bad faith against the insurer and agent. The agent was quickly dismissed from the suit. Plaintiffs argued that there were issues of waiver and that the insurer had a pattern and practice of accepting late payments without a disruption in coverage. Alternatively, plaintiffs argued that they made advanced premium payments, therefore the cancellation was improper. The court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
  • Mr. and Mrs. C. v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of Peoria County, Illinois - The firm's client, a major U.S. insurance company, denied the homeowner's claim for the first fire asserting that it was intentionally set by plaintiffs and that plaintiffs made material misrepresentations during the investigation. The Company denied the claim on the second fire as the policy was void prior to the second fire due to plaintiffs' intentional acts and misrepresentations. We filed a motion to dismiss Count I of plaintiffs' complaint which pertained to the first fire as it was time-barred under the one-year limitation provision in the policy. After the Motion to Dismiss Count I was granted, we filed a Motion to Dismiss Counts II and III (second fire and bad faith claim, respectively) arguing that policy was void following the first fire and that therefore there was no policy in effect at time of the second fire. All motions were granted disposing of the entire lawsuit with prejudice
  • Mrs. M. v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of McLean County, Illinois - Plaintiff's vehicle was repossessed. Plaintiff claimed that the vehicle was unlawfully repossessed and filed suit against the firm's client, a major U.S. insurance company, seeking coverage under the theft provision of her auto insurance, and the local police department. We filed a Motion to Dismiss arguing that Plaintiff's claim was not made within the one-year statute of limitations set forth in the insurance policy and that as a matter of law a repossession is not a theft. Our motion was granted and the matter dismissed with prejudice.
  • Brahler Tire et al. v. The Delivery Network and FI Warehouse Madison County, Illinois - We represented the owners of a commercial warehouse in the defense of claims from neighboring businesses and customers arising from a large fire that consumed much of a commercial warehouse and surrounding businesses, resulting in millions of dollars of claimed losses and multiple suits in Madison County, Illinois.
  • Baker v. Continental Western Insurance Company (2001), Rock Island County, Illinois - Successful defense at jury trial of alleged breach of contract claim in which insurer asserted material misrepresentation and arson defenses.
  • Kemmerling Welding, Inc. v. Erie Insurance Group Menard County, Illinois - Successfully obtained summary judgment for insurer on application misrepresentation defense of claim in excess of $1,000,000 on commercial property insurance policy.
  • Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company v. Anthony P. LaHood Tazewell County, Illinois - Successful investigation and examination under oath regarding restaurant fire resulting in guilty plea of owner to arson, denial of claim, judgment in favor of the insurer and restitution made to the insurer.
  • Pettit v. Economy Fire & Casualty Company (1997), Sangamon County, Illinois - Defense of fire claim involving rental property and defense of intentional act on part of insured.
  • Gregory v. Country Mutual Insurance Company (2007), Knox County, Illinois - Arson/first-party property and bad faith trial resulting in finding of only contract liability and no extra-contractual damage award.
  • Butler v. General Accident Insurance Company of America Putnam County, Tenth Judicial Circuit of Illinois - A breach of contract and bad faith case wherein it was asserted by the insureds that the defendant improperly denied their claim for the collapse of their basement walls. The verdict was not guilty.

Publications

  • "Extracontractual Damages in First-Party Property Insurance Claims," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1996) - Download Article
  • "Insurance Fraud Statute," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1993)