Re: AVI’s role in the hard-fought victory over the Whitaker’s homeowner’s insurer
As you know, our vacation home was struck by lightning and burned to the ground in less than two hours. Multiple items of personal property of irreplaceable value collected by my wife and me during almost 50 years of married life, including pieces from many trips both here and abroad were totally lost – art, antiques, collectibles, keepsakes – everything. That tragedy, unfortunately, was compounded by the complete intransigence of our homeowner’s insurer, which chose to dispute every aspect of the loss (except its origin, which reluctantly they acknowledged), and they steadfastly sought to impose unrealistic values and compromises on our quite large, multifaceted claim that encompassed both lost real property and personal property values. That total unwillingness on the insurer’s part to recognize reality led ultimately to our engaging counsel and initiating litigation against the insurer in U.S. District Court.
With the case against the insurer having progressed deep into the “discovery” phase, the insurer totally capitulated; with the help of counsel we arrived at a mutually agreed financial settlement of the litigation satisfactory to my wife and me. That settlement made us whole on a monetary basis for the primary homeowner insurer’s insured portion of our loss, including all our insured real and personal property values and our related costs, legal fees and expenses.
Now that the case is fully resolved I’ve given considerable thought to what, from our perspective, caused this settlement result to occur. First, I’d have to list our financial capability to initiate and sustain expensive non¬-contingent fee litigation with a major national insurer. Legal and other costs accrue at an unbelievable pace.
Also, we selected wisely in engaging our attorney. Last, but by no means least, are the “weapons” we had to bring to bear against the insurer – not the least among which weapons as to the personal property claim was the catalogued inventory-conceived, created and backed up by AVI and its engaging, highly qualified and professional, personal property appraiser.
As I think you know, our personal insurance representative a few years ago strongly recommended that we have a professionally done pictorial and valuation inventory prepared for all our personal property. AVI was at the top of the list of several companies that our representative recommended, and my due diligence with that list led me to the interview with you and the quality list of references you provided. That, in turn, led ultimately to our engagement of AVI to do a professional pictorial inventory and appraisal of all our personal property at both our locations, resulting in an inventory for each.
The update of the inventory for our home that I commissioned AVI to create shortly after the fire, in my opinion, was one of the major catalysts that ultimately led to our settlement with the insurer. Frankly, I was looking forward to the insurer’s counsel taking a deposition from AVI’s appraiser and I thought, and still think, that the settlement occurred on the cusp of the taking of that deposition is highly revealing. The fact, existence and contents of the inventory and AVI’s appraiser’s supporting testimonial validation would have been the making of our claim of bad faith and punitive damages against the insurer before a jury, and in my opinion the insurer did not want to expose itself to that risk.
This unsolicited letter has turned out to be considerably longer than initially I had intended. But the support, encouragement and professionalism of you, and the AVI staff in helping my wife and me deal with this difficult and emotionally trying situation is a story that deserves to be told. You have our unqualified blessing and urging to use us as a reference at any time.
- Lloyd T. Whitaker