Does USAA Insurance knock hailstorm roofing claims down and by doing so, hurt its military members?
USAA Insurance pledges to loyally serve its experienced members and their families. But that may not always be the case according to a lawsuit, Kraig Vandewalle vs. USAA.
Every year thousands of lawsuits are filed against insurance companies in Texas. The Watchdog examined one to study a process used to deny claims.
Vandewalle is a retired Air Force Colonel from San Antonio. According to his lawsuit, USAA refused to pay for a replacement roof after a hailstorm.
Clare P. Rodgers, his attorney, received a cache of internal emails from USAA and Allcat Claims Service from Boerne, a company of outside independent experts who inspect roof claims for USAA, during the pre-trial discovery.
The emails show that Allcat expert Gair Allie inspected Vandewalle’s roof and assessed it for replacement. But then a vice president of claims at Allcat, Joel Love, teamed up with USAA to force expert Allie to change his decision.
Love then asked for his name to be removed from the record to keep his role hidden, a no-no in the insurance industry.
In a statement, Allie seemed surprised to learn that the opposing party had emails with these details. Allie said he’d never seen them, and no one told him opposing counsel had them.
“It’s clear to me they’re throwing Gair under the bus,” Vandewalle attorney Rodgers told me.
This is the second time I’ve come across a lawsuit where claims adjuster Allie inspects a roof and then has his expert decision reversed by superiors.
Allie refused to talk to me, saying: “Unfortunately, this case is still ongoing and I can’t talk about it at the moment. I’m sure you understand.”
I asked USAA about this plus other cases I wrote about in part one of this series, but USAA communications director Rebekah Nelson only said, “USA will not speak on specific issues due to member privacy or pending lawsuits. However, USAA handles millions of claims every year.” with a high satisfaction rate and remains committed to serving its membership.” There was no further comment.
Joel Love and Allcat officials have not responded to my requests for comment.
Initially involving expert Allie, he inspected the Georgetown home of retired Navy flight surgeon John Kelley, a 53-year-old USAA client. On the same subject : Translucent Roofing Market Size, Trends and Forecast 2028 By Roofing Industries, Alsynite, Metalcraft, Ampelite, Caoduro, Cospico, Bluetek, .. He told Kelley that he found wind damage and that he would write it up for a new roof.
But that estimate was reversed. Allie dropped the roof payment from $19,800 all the way to $1,200, well below Kelley’s deductible.
Kelley filed a lawsuit and the case went to a five-day trial, and Kelley won. The jury awarded $143,000 in damages and attorney’s fees. Before USAA could appeal, the couple reached a confidential settlement with USAA.
‘Remove the reference’
In the second, more recent case, Allie testified under oath in a statement in the Vandewalle case last month. To see also : Solar Integrated Roofing Corp. Announces Live Discord Investor Q&A on Monday July 19, 2021 At 7:00PM (EST).
After Vandewalle’s attorney learned that Love, the vice president of Allcat alleges, in conjunction with USAA, had secretly been working to lower the claim, she modified the lawsuit to include Allcat and Love. She also added allegations of fraud and conspiracy.
Allie testified that he was told to change his original opinion, which was at first for a smaller estimate, but when he learned that matching clay tiles were no longer available, he improved his recommendation to a full roof replacement.
That was not the case with his superiors.
Attorney Rodgers, who questioned Allie, told me, “He was given a word-for-word explanation of what his conclusion should be. … They manipulated it to make it look like he … [Allie] agreed with USAA’s final decision.”
Love also wanted his name removed from the activity log to hide any conversations with management.
“Remove the reference” to him, Love wrote in an email to another Allcat official.
The official had written to Love: “Gair Allie has resubmitted the file. The file appears to be following your guidelines.”
Allie testified that he probably deleted Love’s name from the activity log, but he couldn’t remember doing so.
In another email, Love wrote that he had reviewed the file with USAA.
A USAA claims adjuster wrote to Love: “We would not be obliged to replace the entire roof system. We can replace a slope and repair the tiles.” That would have been a lot cheaper.
Repair estimates bounced from $10,000 to $70,000 back to $11,000, Rodgers said.
Meanwhile, three years after the storm, the retired colonel’s house is still damaged. There are 200 broken roof tiles, representing about a third of the entire roof.
Independent insurance experts don’t have to capitulate, says Azle’s Mike Martin, who worked as an Allcat expert until he resigned.
He said: “I’ve made claims where desk reviewers say, ‘I want you to take this off and that off.’ And I say, ‘No, I’m not going to do it.’ I put eyes and hands on everyone’s house, and the point is, they didn’t.”
They may call themselves ‘independent insurance experts’.
But it seems that they are not always independent.
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