Double-whammy for hurricane victims

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: A lot of folks hit hard by the hurricanes last year took another blow yesterday.A federal judge ruled on one couple's complaint that their insurance company wouldn't pay for the damage to their home. More now from Stacey Vanek-Smith.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: It's the first of hundreds of so-called wind/water cases.

Turns out many Gulf Coast residents were covered for wind damage, but not water damage.

That was the case for Paul and Julie Leonard. Their insurer, Nationwide Mutual, said most of the damage to their home was caused by storm surge water, not wind, so they weren't covered

The judge agreed. So instead of the $150,000-some the couple was hoping to claim, they will get about $1,200.

The economic policy institute's Jared Bernstein fears this ruling could influence industry practice.

JARED BERNSTEIN: I'm afraid to say, you're going to find lots of insurers chomping at the bit to view this as a wide-ranging precedent, put in lots of fine print that folks may or may not appreciate, and figure that the courts are going to tilt their way when the case is somewhat ambiguous.

Nationwide said it was pleased with the decision and reminded policyholders that they need to the fine print.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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