If my house wasn’t properly repaired after a tornado so my insurer reopened the claim but they doubt the HVAC damage was tornado-related, can I sue them?

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If my house wasn’t properly repaired after a tornado so my insurer reopened the claim but they doubt the HVAC damage was tornado-related, can I sue them?

My house was damaged in q tornado. Now, 5 years later, I’ve learned that the contractor did not say a word at the time that the ductwork was damaged. As a result, the HVAC is messed up (there’s mold, etc.). I got the insurance company to reopen the case, however they don’t believe the HVAC contractor when he says the ductwork damage was caused by the tornado. I can’t afford to fix it and I’ll probably have to give the property back. Can I sue the insurance company?

Asked on November 16, 2016 under Insurance Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You will have several problems, any one of which could make it impossible for you to win.
1) First and foremost, the statute of limitations, or time within which you must start or file a lawsuit in your state for a matter like this (one involving a written agreement, like an insurance policy) is only 5 years. If this is now "5 years later," then depending on the exact time frame, it may now be too late to sue; once the statutory period has expired, you can no longer bring a lawsuit
2) Second, to win, you'd have to prove in court by a "preponderance of the evidence" that the damage was caused by the tornado and that they should have paid. After 5 years, you may not be able to, even with the contractor's help, provide sufficient evidence to prove that (i.e. may not be able to provide sufficient documentary evidence or credible testimony, given the passage of time, so as to convince the court).


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