Hartford Woman Sues State Farm For Refusing To Cover $190,000 Repair Bill From House Fire

Insurance is supposed to buy you peace of mind.

But that is not what happened for Eugenia Zayas of Hartford, an X-ray technician and the single mother of three, who has been unable to collect from storm damage and from a major fire at her home.

Eugenia Zayas stands in front of her fire damaged home, with her children Juan, 11, Janelie, 16, and Maria, 17, (l to r) behind her.

Her tale starts in the summer of 2011 when heavy rainstorms damaged the roof of her home at 20 Eastview Street.

But when she went to her insurer, State Farm, she was denied coverage because the insurer said the damage from the rains was not severe enough.

Her policy, according to the lawsuit she filed, had a one percent deductible. Since her home was insured for $210,400, the damage from the rains had to exceed $2,104 before any coverage kicked in.

While the rains apparently caused some of the damage, three roofing contractors told her that her roof was in such bad condition that it must be completely replaced.

Zayas, in a telephone interview, said she went back to State Farm with the information from the contractors, but the insurance company insisted that the rain damage caused less damage than her deductible.

Using her credit cards, savings and retirement funds, Zayas replaced her roof at a cost of about $7,000.

To help rebuild her finances, she downsized to an apartment she was able to rent for $750 a month and she rented her house out to a friend who needed temporary housing for eight months at $1,750 a month.

By this move, says the suit she filed in Hartford Superior Court, she was able to save enough money to help pay for the repairs. She also used the deposit to help pay for the roof.

On Jan. 17 tragedy struck. A fire broke out in her basement as a bag near the water heater caught on fire. The fire caused $190,000 in damages, says the suit, and her home is unlivable.

State Farm sent a contractor to her home to board it up but three weeks later told her it would not cover the fire – even though the fire department’s records show it was accidental.

Why? According to the suit, State Farm said it did not have to pay because Zayas was no longer residing in her home. She should have had renter’s insurance instead of a homeowner’s policy, Zayas says she was told.

“According to State Farm’s interpretation of its policy, any homeowner who owns or rents a vacation home, second property, or even stays in a hotel is subject to losing their homeowner’s coverage if a loss happens when they are away,” says the suit in which she is represented by Theresa A. Guertin of Hamden.

Even though she moved to a temporary apartment, the suit maintains that Zayas legal residency was still at her home.

“Despite her temporary relocation, Ms. Zayas maintained the Zayas Home as her primary residence; she did not change her legal address and continued to receive her mail at the Zayas Home,” says the suit.

Arlene J. Lester, State Farm spokeswoman, declined to comment because the suit is in litigation.

Attorneys for State Farm have filed a motion to have most of the suit dismissed on the grounds it does not provide specific enough allegations that State Farm breached the “covenant of good faith and fair dealing in terms of wanton and malicious injury with dishonest purpose and moral obliquity. Instead she merely alleges, in a conclusory manner, that State Farm acted in bad faith when they denied the plaintiff’s claim and failed to investigate the claim in a timely manner.”

Zayas says she doesn’t know what she will do if she loses her lawsuit. “I don’t have a clue as to what I can do.”

“I am working around the clock to pay the mortgage and vacant home insurance,” she said, adding that she is now insured by another company as State Farm dropped her as a customer in April.

“I think they are unfair,” she said. “I am not asking for anything more than to fix my home. This is all I have and this is what I bought for my kids. I just hope for the best and pray to God it works out.”


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13 Comments on "Hartford Woman Sues State Farm For Refusing To Cover $190,000 Repair Bill From House Fire"

  1. AgainstBadFaithInsurance | November 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm |

    This is typical behavior for State Farm. For more information about their bad faith behavior, go to http://truthaboutmold.info/insurance_bad_faith.

  2. Unreal!! I will NEVER use this company.I hope for this family they win the law suit.I truly wish you the BEST of LUCK!!

  3. Unreal!! I will NEVER use this insurance company!!I hope this family wins the law suit.I truly wish you all the BEST of LUCK!!

  4. Eugenia zayas | November 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

    Thanks for showing support.

  5. Eugenia: I was born and raised in Bloomfiled. I specialize in insurance damages and “Appraisal” a clause in the policy provisions. I will gladly take your case for free and be your appraiser against State Farm. I ask for nothing in return.

    I cannot sit idly by while they attempt to “run you over.” Please feel free to look over my web site and have your attorney call me. I go all over the Country helping people like you. Many of my client’s are State Farm “Victims.”


    Jeffrey C. Pellet

  6. I had State Farm here in Florida and canceled them.
    They are nothing but crooks. I used to go in and change my limits as they kept going up every year. I had a windstorm and it blew shingles off my roof. They wanted to replace the 20 or so shingles, not the whole roof because they said the shingles only came off of only 3 of the 6 slopes! It sounded absurd and they refused to pay for a new roof. They were only good for collecting my money, refused me any help.

  7. This is sad. I won’t use State Farm ever again. I learned something i didnt know about state farm and there provisions, which is very scary. This women has to win. How can they do this to her kids. It’s sad when things happen to good people. God bless you and your kids.

  8. I understood that the 1% deductible only comes into play if a storm is considered a hurricane. We have only had tropical storms winds in CT. Wondering why her regular deductible did not come into play here.

  9. Too many holes in this story. First is the 3 contractors who said the whole roof needed to be replaced. Does that mean it needed to have been replaced priot to the storm? Was it already so old that a simple rain could have leaked through? Second, she replaced the roof for $7000, I had a roof replaced 12 years ago for $12000, no mansion mind you. Third, who rents a house in Hartford for $1750 a month? Unless of course it is the governors mansion. Fouth, my landlord does not have mail sent to my rented address. Fifth, I do hope someone from IRS follows up to see there is rental income reported on her tax return. Sixth, are threre homes in Hartford valued at $210,000? I spplaud her for working & taking care of 3 kids, but I wonder how she was so successfull and now wants ratepayers to bring her house back to new condition. So many unanswered questions here.

  10. I’m sorry this is happening to you. State Farm has a horrible reputation, I would NEVER let them quote on my home, car, or anything else. I’ve used Liberty Mutual for over 30 yrs for my cars and about 4 years ago I switched my home to them. They were a few dollars more than the no-name company I previously had my home owner’s insurance with but they are worth every penny. The one claim I had was a small one, but they paid it within a week. The appraiser was at my house within 2 days of my claim. I pray that you win your suit against State Farm. The State of CT Department of Insurance should penalize them for what they do to their policyholders and distribute the penalty $$ received to their customers. I highly recommend a MUTUAL insurance company. Mutual insurance companies are owned by the policy holders and when they have a ‘good year’ and make a profit, they actually send dividend checks to the policy holders. I was surprised the first time this happened. This doesn’t happen very often, which in my mind means they don’t ‘overcharge’ and reap profits from their customers. PLEASE keep us informed if you can. Good luck.

  11. Barbara Coppola | November 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm |

    I am confused about the statement that if you stay in a hotel your house wouldn’t be covered, what about a vacation ?? Why is its that the insurance companies never have a problem taking the premium but so much trouble in paying a claim and how can a person understand all of the small print in the policy. There should a way they can make it very clear exactly what they do cover and don’t cover. This is just wrong to fail to pay a legitimate claim for an accidental fire…….who is the one who should have renters insurance? her or the person who rented the house? And my daughter has rental insurance covering her belongings but if the building was burned down isn’t it up to the landlord to have insurance on the building?

  12. Dear people if you read the policy, the insurer still has a duty to the property owners mortgage company, even if they choose not to pay her. They might not want to pay additional living exspenses or contents, but should still repair the home for the mortgage company. The women should have sued State Farm. But many times inexperienced or lazy lawyers won’t do their job. I said a prayer,good luck!

  13. gudluckcharm | November 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm |

    i believe that you are a strong woman and will win this lawsuit there is not many mothers out there that will buy a house for her three kids and do that all by themselves i hope you in and everything will work out for you god bless you and your kids

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