What can we do if tan insurer is charging me an inflated amount for home repair?

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What can we do if tan insurer is charging me an inflated amount for home repair?

My condo unit was leaking and my HOA checked my unit and told me that my bath tub had to be replaced. We followed the advice and completed all the repairs promptly. We contacted the unit below to review the damage and the owner told us, in writing, that the damage was not that serious and we had to probably help to pay for ceiling damage and sheet rock replacement and painting. Now, 2 months later, we are getting a call from the insurer that we owe $10,000 for repairs. We are speechless and don’t know what to do.

Asked on January 26, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If your bathtub leaked, you would be responsible for the damage it did to another's unit if you were in any way at fault (e.g. you overfilled it; you didn't pay attention to or fix small leaks or cracks until they become bad; you stopped up the drain somehow; etc.). However, you would not be liable if you were not in some way at least partially at fault--e.g. if the leak were hidden in the plumbing below the tub and you did not cause it somehow, so you had no way to know it was leaking and no reason to take action. The mere fact that the damage originated from your unit does not by itself make you liable--that's why people have insurance after all: to pay for losses or costs when there is no one at fault to recover compensation from.
If you believe you were not at fault, you could refuse to pay and let the insurer sue you, if you should choose to: there is no obligation to pay unless and until they sue you and win. To recover money from you, they would have to prove to the court that you were in some way at fault for the leak. 
If you believe you were at fault, or at least are willing to take some responsibility, but believe (as you do) that the costs are excessive, ask the insurer for documentation of the costs and at the same time, try to get some quotes or estimates from other contractors as to what they would charge. The insurer is not allowed to pass on excessive costs just because they hope to get it from someone else; they are only allowed to recover the reasonable costs. If the costs, on further examination appear unreasonable, you can try to negotiate to an amount you'd be willing to pay; if they refuse to do so and hold out for the entire amount, you could again refuse to pay and let them sue you. They'd have to prove in court that all the cost were the result of the leak (i.e. they didn't do ther repairs or updates not related to the leak) and that the costs were reasonable, and should only be able to get a court to order you to pay the reasonable costs provably related to or due to the leak.


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