If I own an auto repair shop and a customer’s car caused a fire that totaled my business, is the customer’s insurer liable to pay for damages?

I owned an auto service business for many years. Then, about 10 months ago, a fire destroyed everything. The fire department investigators along with my insurance company’s investigator ruled that fire was caused by a vehicle in my shop that was dropped off few days earlier for electrical short/air bag/seat belt issues. I had insurance but very limited; I lost over $150,000 but my insurance was for only $42,000.The owner of the vehicle that caused the fire had full coverage, I was told his insurance company should cover my losses is this true?

Asked on September 24, 2014 under Insurance Law, Ohio


Michael Jacobs / McGowan & Jacobs, LLC

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It may depend on the wording of the policy of the car's owner and whether you knew or should have know whether the problem sought to be addressed could cause a fire (this would be more of a defense to be raised by the car owner/his insurer.  

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Here is the issue. He brought it in for those issues. The car was In your possession at the time of the accident. You can certainly try to seek coverage from his insurance company but it may be denied. He did not have control of the vehicle and it was up to your shop to secure it so just an issue could not occur.  Hopefully his insurance will pay out but make sure you have evidence supporting your position you did everything to secure this car prior to the fire. 

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