After a catastrophic fire at its office, this company was relieved to be protected under the right coverage — until the insurance provider found a way to weasel out of it.
The Great American Insurance Company is arguing in Houston federal court that three workers who perished in an office fire shouldn’t be covered under its plan because their deaths were caused by smoke inhalation and not by actual flames.
“It’s an extraordinary effort by an insurance company to avoid paying on a contract for insurance,” said Randy Sorrels, one of the lawyers for several families of the recently deceased.
Great American says the deaths caused by smoke, soot and fumes from the fire shouldn’t be covered because there is a specific exclusion for pollution under the business’s contract — and the same exclusion mentions smoke and fumes.
Lawyers claim that property insurance has a long history of being designed for fire coverage, but that excluding smoke is applying the law too broadly. “The purpose of a pollution exclusion is not to not cover people who die from smoke inhalation in a fire,” said lawyers.