Homeowner claims he was misled about windstorm insurance

Kelly Holleran May 27, 2009, 7:32am

A Jefferson County man is suing a bank and an insurance agency, claiming he was misled into believing he had windstorm insurance coverage when he did not.

Christopher Whiddon filed a suit May 18 in Jefferson County District Court against Chase Home Finance, which was formerly known as Bank One, and Blake Borel Insurance.

Whiddon says his home at 6759 Coolidge Blvd. in Groves suffered more than $80,000 worth of damage after Hurricane Rita hit on Sept. 23, 2005.

He says he thought he had insurance and called to make a claim, but was told Chase had not secured insurance from him.

When Whiddon originally purchased his home in May 2004, he financed the purchase through Bank One and purchased fire and windstorm coverage at his closing, he says.

However, Whiddon's windstorm coverage with Texas Select Lloyds Insurance Company, purchased through Blake Borel, was non-renewed when it expired in December 2004, according to the complaint.

Whiddon's mortgage company, Chase, was notified of the non-renewal, Whiddon claims.

"Plaintiff relief upon Defendant, Chase, to place coverage based upon representations that it would be done, and the payments would be escrowed," the suit states.

Because he did not have insurance at the time of the storm, Whiddon incurred out-of-pocket expenses, lost his use, paid for replacement and lost his credit and experienced damage to his credit reputation, the complaint says.

He also incurred interest and finance charges, experienced a diminished or reduced market value of his home, paid for repairs and remediation, incurred engineering and consulting fees and paid for temporary housing, he says.

Chase and Blake Borel are guilty of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices, of acting unconscionably, of violating the Texas Business and Commerce Code, of unfair claim settlement practices, of misrepresenting an insurance policy, of unfair and deceptive acts, of common law fraud, negligence and breach of contract, according to the complaint.

Whiddon is seeking a judgment for unspecified economic and actual damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest at the maximum rate allowed by law, attorney's fees, costs and other relief to which he may be entitled.

Brett S. Thomas of Roebuck, Thomas, Roebuck and Adams in Beaumont will be representing him.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A184-107.

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