In October 2015, the busy intersection of Queens Boulevard and Broadway was closed due to a massive water main break on a construction development site. This caused numerous retail stores including Starbucks, Subway, Verizon, and other local stores to experience up to 12 inches of water in their locations, which led to property damages to their betterments and improvements, in addition to merchandise. Many business owners thought their insurance companies would provide payment for these damages, but many found out that the insurance company adjusters were looking to provide no coverage based on their interpretation of the policy language.
One of the local retailers was a large variety store and the owner told local reporters “I have insurance, but I don’t know if it will cover it”. In her case, the insurance company stated the claim may be denied as the damages were caused by “surface water”. Once United Public Adjusters & Appraisers, Inc. was retained, we thoroughly reviewed the policy and the interpretation of “surface water” which courts have interpreted as “the accumulation of natural precipitation on the land and its passage thereafter over the land until it evaporates, is absorbed by the land or reaches stream channels”. The water damage from the broken water main pipe was not precipitation by rain or snow melt, based on our research as well as communication with our legal advisors, the use of “surface water” to disclaim coverage as a result of the broken water main was not proper policy interpretation. In conclusion, due to our extensive knowledge in policy interpretation and negotiating skills, we ensured our clients were fully compensated for the damages all while minimizing any business interruption.