N.H. Private School Sues Insurer Over Flood Policy

December 28, 2006

St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. has filed a lawsuit accusing its insurance company of refusing to cover most of the $5 million the school has spent repairing buildings and grounds damaged by flooding last spring.

In May, floodwaters tore up the road in front of the school’s Hargate Fine Arts Center and dumped more than four feet of water and mud in the building. The brick entryway of the campus post office was ripped away, carpets were ruined in a dormitory and the bottom floor of the library was soaked.

The campus was evacuated before school ended, but most of the damage was repaired before students returned this fall.

In August, Vice Rector for Students Doug Dickson said he hoped the school’s insurance policy would cover most of the costly repairs. But by then, the insurance company had already disputed much of the school’s claim, saying that most of the buildings were in “Flood Zone A” and not covered, according to the school’s lawsuit.

Travelers Indemnity Co. has denied coverage for most of the damaged areas — the library, dorm, fine arts center and central heating plant — saying those buildings were in a flood zone and therefor not covered. After an unsuccessful appeal, the school responded with a federal lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, the Federal Emergency Management Agency inspected the campus and concluded that the dorm, the fine arts center and the heating plant were outside the flood zone. The school argues that even if a building is partly in the flood zone, any damaged sections outside the flood zone should be entitled to coverage.

The school’s insurance policy allows for up to $10 million for flood damage as long as the affected area is not in a flood zone.

The insurance company has until mid-January to respond in court. A spokeswoman for the Connecticut-based company declined to comment Tuesday.


Information from: Concord Monitor, http://www.cmonitor.com

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