Team Toyota Realty has filed a lawsuit against its flood insurance company and FEMA for refusing to pay the auto dealer the full amount of its covered losses from the August 2016 flood.
According to the suit, filed earlier this month in the Baton Rouge federal court, Team Toyota sustained nearly $231,000 in losses on the building and contents of its used car facility. But its insurer, New Hampshire Insurance Company, rejected more than $97,000 of the claim, contending certain items were either not covered under the auto dealer’s flood insurance policy or not supported with adequate documentation. In an appeal, FEMA concurred with the insurance company.
Similarly, NHIC and FEMA rejected some $16,000 of Team Toyota’s nearly $915,000 claim for losses to the building and contents of its new car facility.
The suit alleges the insurance company and FEMA are in breach of contract under the terms of Team’s flood insurance policy and the policies of the National Flood Insurance Program.
“NHIC and FEMA wrongfully failed to honor its contractual obligations to Team Toyota by arbitrarily and capriciously denying Team Toyota the insurance proceeds to which it is entitled,” the lawsuit reads.
An attorney for Team Toyota declines to comment. Neither the NHIC nor FEMA has filed a response yet to the allegations in federal court. Team Toyota is asking to be paid the full amount it is owed, plus unspecified damages to be determined at trial.
Team Toyota joins a growing list of victims of the August 2016 flood to file suit over being denied part or all of its claim. Since last fall, nearly 1,000 suits have been filed in the U.S. Middle District against insurance companies, FEMA, the NFIP and even the Department of Homeland Security.
Several national law firms involved in litigation following Superstorm Sandy and, more recently, Hurricane Harvey, as well as several plaintiffs firms based in New Orleans have signed up clients by the dozens in recent months, alleging breach of contract in suits that are identical, save for the plaintiff’s name and the disputed amount of the claim.
So far, no class action suits have been filed, nor have any fraud allegations surfaced, as was the case following Superstorm Sandy. But attorneys have said they believe there is “systemic underpayment” to 2016 flood victims.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says he is not aware of the suits or of any fraud allegations.