Over 3 years ago I had a fire in my home that is still not ready to move in. After the abatement (6 months) the first contractor decided not to do insurance anymore. Decided not to take the contract, but had made a bid the insurance accepted. The insurance limited me to choosing a contractor that would accept the bid, but I couldn't find anyone. Desperate, I asked the insurance if there was anyone they work with. The company has had the job for 2 years and 10 months. They dont show up for months at a time and keep failing inspections. At the time of hiring, they told me it would be 6 months. In addition, the insurance told me to get a 6 month lease. The fire was Nov 2, 2016 and it is now Jan 3 2020. Where i live, no one gives a 6 month lease and rents are extremely high. This resulted in the loss of use money being used up in 12 months. Do I have a valid claim? Against the contractor? The Insurance. If I dont get into my home soon, I will be homeless.

  • I am not the one downvoting or voting to close your question, but I suggest you to edit your post and make it much clearer. What do you mean by abatement? what is your jurisdiction? what do you mean by contractor's decision "not to do insurance anymore"? Your use of pronouns and vague references (e.g., "the company", given that every entity other than yourself is a company), as opposed to specific entities makes it hard to follow who did what. Also, the answer to your question depends on the terms of your policy and any contracts with third parties, none of which is explained in your post. Jan 4, 2020 at 9:25

1 Answer 1


It is not clear that there is anyone you can sue. Theoretically you could sue the original contractor for breach of contract who may have entered into a contract with you, but even if you have the paperwork in your hand, you cannot expect a court to force him to do the job. It sound like there was not actually a contract, instead he proffered an estimate.

It does sound like you found another contractor who started the work, but has proven to be less than satisfactory. The two main issues are the delay, and the failure to perform according to professional standards. The courts will almost certainly require the work to be up to code, but will take a long, hard look at your non-code expectations (e.g. lousy paint job, uneven walls). The contractor's argument will be "you get what you pay for", which you could counter with evidence that other contractors in the same situation do an artisanal job for the same money (if you can actually show that). Construction attorneys have experience in sizing up the situation. As for the delay, that too is a fact-intensive matter. You might sue for an unreasonable delay, if indeed the delay is factually unreasonable. That is primarily determined by local facts, for example if you are in a fire zone in northern California, massive delays are reasonable in light of the scope of the demand for contractors.

The insurance company is not necessarily immune. Their liability is limited in some way, for example their expenses might be contractually capped at $200K. It is not unheard of for an insurance company to resist, for example if you had pine floors and want them replaced with polished marble, they would not be liable for paying for an upgrade. They are standardly liable for restoring you to your pre-fire condition. There can easily be factual disputes over what that state is. Bearing all that in mind, even if the insurance company "doesn't like to" pay more than $X for a job, it may have to, under the circumstances (i.e. if more money is required to entice a contractor to do the job). But there is still a limit on how much they can be forced to pay.

So what you have to do is get all of the relevant paperwork together, and find an attorney (if there are any available).

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