Not-So-Good-Vibrations

Allstate Pays Homeowner $995,000 for Concorde Jet Damage in NYC
Home Damaged by Sound Vibrations at Takeoff
Jan. 8, 2008 

October 2007 Issue CLAIMS MAGAZINE

By Michael Houts and Eric Gilkey

A Brooklyn, N.Y. couple was awarded $1 million dollars after a Manhattan Supreme Court jury ruled in favor of their claim made to Allstate Insurance for damages to their home caused by vibrations from a supersonic airliner taking off from a nearby airport. The case also cast a few more shadows on Allstate’s claim-handling methods.

According to a release from the law firm Wilkofsky, Friedman, Karel & Cummins, John and Annette Ferranti had a custom-built steel and concrete home in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. In July of 2002, an Air France Concorde flight had trouble gaining altitude upon take off, and subsequently “buzzed” Belle Harbor at a hazardously low altitude.

Residents of the area complained about cracking plaster and shaking foundations, including the Ferrantis , who experienced leaking thorough cracks in the concrete blocks of their 12-year-old home after rainstorms. The Ferranti’s engineer explained that the Ferranti’s home responded differently to the vibration than the many homes surrounding it because it was the only home in the area constructed of steel and reinforced concrete. The other wood-frame homes had greater ability to flex and move in response to the vibration whereas the Ferrantis home was less forgiving to movement and therefore cracked in response.

Issues regarding Allstate’s handling of the claim also surfaced, adding fuel to recent fires that the company’s claim practices make it intentionally difficult for insureds to collect appropriate amounts from their policies. According to the release, Allstate had insured the home since 1990 but refused to pay the claim, alleging that the damages were caused by bad construction and poor maintenance. Furthermore, the company said it should be excused from the claim since it received first notice of the loss 14 months after the event.

But evidence presented at the three-week trial showed that the Ferranti’s claim was under investigation for two years before Allstate denied it, and that the company at no time made an offer to settle the claim. Former Allstate claim manager Anthony Reitano even testified on behalf of the homeowners, saying that he believed the claim was covered and that the notice given Allstate was reasonable under the circumstances.

At the time of his testimony, Reitano was no longer working for Allstate.


Filed Under: News

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