State Farm Targets NV Energy for Subrogation Over Reno Wildfire

July 30, 2013

State Farm Insurance plans to seek action against NV Energy for claims stemming from a November 2011 wildfire in Reno, Nev., sparked by arcing power lines.

The wind-whipped fire destroyed 26 homes and damaged 17. It also caused about $7.6 million in property damage and more than $1.5 million in firefighting costs.

State Farm has sent letters to affected customers notifying them that the company will file action against NV Energy through a long-standing industry practice known as subrogation, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

It’s a legal action that can be taken by insurance companies against a third party they believe to be responsible for damage sustained by customers.

State Farm declined to comment about specifics because it has yet to be filed.

NV Energy spokesman Calder Chism said the company was unaware that State Farm was planning to take the action. He said NV Energy does not comment on pending lawsuits.

State Farm urged customers to call the phone number on the letters if they have any questions.

“Any questions they have regarding any claims are best addressed through their insurer,” State Farm spokeswoman Angela Thorpe said.

A Reno Fire Department report says a tree branch probably was blown into lines, and the 1,935-acre fire was fanned by gusts of up to 85 mph.

While the report did not make any recommendations, Reno Fire Marshal Joan Presley said underground power lines would have prevented the blaze.

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