Sommers Schwartz recently received preliminary approval for a nationwide class action settlement with Allstate, on behalf of policyholders whose covered property damage claims were previously underpaid. The Plaintiffs in the case, two Michigan Allstate policyholders, were represented by Sommers Schwartz class action attorneys Jason Thompson and Lance Young. Allstate’s contract and even their website indicated that Allstate would pay covered losses using the conventional measure of “actual cash value,” which is the replacement cost of the damaged property less an appropriate deduction for depreciation. In some instances and in some states, Allstate did that. In other cases, for example in cities where real-estate values were depressed, Allstate used real-estate appraisals as the sole means of valuing the loss. As a result, people living in neighborhoods where real estate values were depressed received less than they should have and many of these policyholders could not afford to rebuild their homes.
An Illinois State Court Judge granted preliminary approval of the 38-state settlement on May 31, 2012. The settlement covers more than 13,000 Allstate policyholders who sustained covered losses during the past 20 years. Under the settlement, each class member will have the opportunity to file a claim and attest whether they believe their claim was undervalued. Those that attach a copy of the real estate appraisal to their claim form will receive 20% of the difference between the appraised value and their policy limits. If class members cannot locate the appraisal, or aren’t sure if one was used, they can still receive a cash payment of up to 5.25% of the amount Allstate originally paid to settle their loss. Given the amounts involved in a typical house fire, these payments could amount to several thousand dollars per class member.
Because each class member’s payment under the settlement will vary depending on the responses he or she makes in the claim form, the final value of the settlement currently cannot be determined. However, based on experience and the data Allstate provided, class counsel conservatively believes that the payout should exceed $22,500,000.