Are you part of class action suit?

May 29, 2009 4:05:23 PM PDT
A class action lawsuit against a large insurance company could give Hurricane Ike victims some extra money. The lawsuit is against Nationwide Insurance. It claims the company underpaid homeowners' claims over the last 13 years. Nationwide customers are getting letters, telling them about the lawsuit and the company confirms the settlement.

On Galveston Island, which is still struggling to rebuild, it's not hard to find someone dealing with an insurance problem.

"The pricing of whatever my goods cost and the deductions that they took from that were tremendous," said homeowner Nelda Engstrom. "I cannot believe they deducted so much."

While people fight to get enough money to move back into their island homes, those who have Nationwide homeowners insurance could be getting more money for their Ike damage.

Nationwide agreed to settle a class action lawsuit that alleges the company did not pay homeowners enough to cover repair costs. Specifically, the lawsuit claims Nationwide improperly withheld payments of contractors' overhead and profited from homeowners' insurance claims.

Who's eligible?

The settlement extends beyond Ike. If you were a Nationwide customer from January 1996 to March of 2009 and had a claim, you're eligible for extra payment.

What will you get?

Those who qualify can get 20 percent of the amount previously paid to complete repairs minus any amounts paid for emergency repairs.

Requirements?

To qualify, you must have had a loss that required repairs involving three or more trades like an electrician, dry wall installer, and carpenter.

In a written statement, a Nationwide spokesperson told us, "Although Nationwide has agreed to a settlement, the company does not admit any wrongdoing. Nationwide decided that a settlement was in the best interest of the company, those involved in the class action and the court system."

The settlement is no surprise to consumer advocates.

"The fact that the courts got action already underway, they are seeing that yes, there was egregious behavior in what these contractors were paid," said Don Parsons with the Better Business Bureau.

I spoke with a Nationwide agent Friday who told me homeowners who take part in the settlement will not be retaliated against by the company and a local attorney told me any customer that did face retaliation would have a great case for a law suit.

If you're affected and you need to fill out a form to be part of the class action lawsuit, check our consumer blog.

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