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Old 02-06-2018, 11:54 AM
 
Location: One foot in CT one in KS
2,194 posts, read 2,904,956 times
Reputation: 6553

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So Friday night my neighbors barn burned down. It is a sad situation. They lost animals and equipment. The barn was old and set on the property line (apparently grandfathered) and apparently they had a space heater set up but an animal likely knocked it over and set the fire. When we first noticed the fire, the barn was almost fully involved. My husband called 911 and we cobbled some clothing and coats together as we were in for the night, raced out and attached hoses and started fighting the fire from our side.

We have several elevated stacks of firewood, a concrete silo and shed full of riding lawn mowers plus hand tools and a half dozen mature trees that are also within 10 feet of the property line. We are on rural water and the water pressure with two hoses going full blast was marginal at best. We managed to keep the shed from burning as well as the firewood stacks and a neighborhood electrical transformer that is set near the fence by running constant streams of water. By the time the fire department was able to respond all 6 trees were on fire to one degree or another. The wind was blowing like stink and we put out what the water could reach in the trees but they kept reigniting. The FD finally got the trees to stop burning but not before they were half burned.

So now our neighbor's insurance company adjuster (Farm Bureau) is telling us tough beans because our neighbor didn't deliberately set the fire so there is no liability. I think that this is a load of manure but our insurance company (State Farm) isn't getting involved because the cost to remove the now dead trees will be below our $7500 deductible. Our neighbor has said that they will talk to their agent but we aren't holding our breath as the adjuster is normally the final word barring legal action which we aren't likely to pursue.

Do we have any avenue at this point? Based upon our past tree service costs, it will likely be $1500-2000 at the bottom end to take those trees down which are now will be liability for us. I'd appreciate some insight. We just haven't ever had to deal with a homeowner claim either on our own end or from a neighbor's issue.

I realize based upon what they lost, ours is a much smaller matter but 2K is 2K. We don't have money to light afire, no pun intended. Frankly I've been saving to take care of a broken tooth and there that goes....

 
Old 02-06-2018, 12:08 PM
 
Location: Florida
4,233 posts, read 3,530,072 times
Reputation: 9385
Honest not snarky question: can't you resolve this with a chain saw on your own? Sounds like more fire wood to me.
 
Old 02-06-2018, 12:14 PM
 
Location: Lakewood Ranch, FL
5,119 posts, read 7,655,916 times
Reputation: 6000
I have nothing to offer except to say that I don’t understand why their liability insurance wouldn’t cover their responsibility to cover you. They might not have set the fire but obviously they created a situation where an animal could knock something over. Besides, how can they prove that’s what happened?

Anyway, I suppose you could go to small claims court. Maybe the insurance would cover a judgment. I don’t know but I don’t think you should get stuck with the bill. The neighbor should step up without being forced to by a court.
 
Old 02-06-2018, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Denver CO
19,057 posts, read 10,086,762 times
Reputation: 27907
Are you talking directly to the adjuster or is this being conveyed to you via the neighbor? If you aren't the one in direct contact, get the info and talk to them yourself. If you are in contact, ask for their supervisor.
 
Old 02-06-2018, 12:32 PM
 
6 posts, read 2,465 times
Reputation: 15
The denial from their insurance carrier makes no sense. If the neighbors deliberately set the fire, AKA arson, the claim would be denied! This type of situation where an accident occurred (space heater close to flammables in a barn) is exactly what property and liability insurance is for. You need to file a claim and discuss with both your insurer and the neighbors insurer. There is always small claims court as a last resort.
 
Old 02-06-2018, 01:33 PM
 
1,528 posts, read 729,353 times
Reputation: 2062
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbronston View Post
I have nothing to offer except to say that I donít understand why their liability insurance wouldnít cover their responsibility to cover you. They might not have set the fire but obviously they created a situation where an animal could knock something over. Besides, how can they prove thatís what happened?
It's not a mystery. We don't know all the details of the incident nor do we know about the policy but liability as a concept generally requires that the neighbor caused the fire or was at fault for it. No use debating the details of something that we don't know about but there is a basis for the insurer's response (whether it could be successfully fought or not is another matter but the basis is there).

Pretty basic concepts in a homeowner's policy so nobody should really be surprised that the insurer is taking this position.
 
Old 02-06-2018, 01:34 PM
 
Location: Raleigh
7,036 posts, read 5,215,367 times
Reputation: 9508
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbronston View Post
I have nothing to offer except to say that I don’t understand why their liability insurance wouldn’t cover their responsibility to cover you. They might not have set the fire but obviously they created a situation where an animal could knock something over. Besides, how can they prove that’s what happened?

Anyway, I suppose you could go to small claims court. Maybe the insurance would cover a judgment. I don’t know but I don’t think you should get stuck with the bill. The neighbor should step up without being forced to by a court.
Quote:
Originally Posted by osu1978 View Post
The denial from their insurance carrier makes no sense. If the neighbors deliberately set the fire, AKA arson, the claim would be denied! This type of situation where an accident occurred (space heater close to flammables in a barn) is exactly what property and liability insurance is for. You need to file a claim and discuss with both your insurer and the neighbors insurer. There is always small claims court as a last resort.
I am not a claims adjuster, but I think this is no different than if your neighbor's tree fell on your roof. If your tree fell on my house, my homeowners insurance would pay for it. They might or might not go after my neighbor or their insurance company.

It could be that by "deliberately set the fire," they are referring to the fire starting from a leaf fire, brush fire, bonfire, as opposed to Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking the lantern over, and not arson.
 
Old 02-06-2018, 01:35 PM
 
Location: One foot in CT one in KS
2,194 posts, read 2,904,956 times
Reputation: 6553
KAB: It's not snarky question. My DH and his helper would normally take them down but the silo and shed that we saved on our property as well as another set of trees directly behind them and neighbor's other shed that we and FD also saved surround the trees on 3 sides.

Hmm: We spoke directly to the adjustor. He was rude and dismissive. He said and I quote: "We do not have liability in this matter covering neighboring property. The owner did not deliberately damage your property. She did not set the fire."

My insurance will not cover because it is below our $7500 deductible.

Just_because: My neighbor and I do not disagree on the facts of the matter. Our insurance carrier did state before they heard who was covering that many carriers will balk at paying out a liability claim regardless of coverage.

Last edited by AK-Cathy; 02-06-2018 at 01:44 PM..
 
Old 02-06-2018, 01:52 PM
 
Location: Salem, OR
13,750 posts, read 31,594,781 times
Reputation: 12124
Did you ask your neighbor directly to help pay for the removal of the trees?
 
Old 02-06-2018, 02:00 PM
 
Location: One foot in CT one in KS
2,194 posts, read 2,904,956 times
Reputation: 6553
Quote:
Originally Posted by kab0906 View Post
Honest not snarky question: can't you resolve this with a chain saw on your own? Sounds like more fire wood to me.
Yes. If anything they are more strapped for cash than we are. We are talking.
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