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Subrogation Success Stories: Lebanon Clyman Mutual Insurance Company

Spring 2021 Issue

By Jeff Blevins, Manager of Property Loss Consulting

Lebanon Clyman Mutual Insurance Company in Lebanon, Wisconsin, recently made a $180,000 subrogation recovery after a total loss fire at an insured rental dwelling.

Tenants and their guests had a gathering around a portable fire pit on the home’s wooden deck. Late in the evening, they extinguished the fire and went to bed. Around 4:30 a.m. they awoke to smoke alarms going off and flames inside the house. All the occupants escaped, reported no injuries and refused medical treatment.

Lebanon Clyman Manager Lisa Westenberg contacted her independent adjuster, who was on the scene the next day. He confirmed from his initial survey that the fire likely originated from the deck area. The adjuster also was able to determine that more than one liability insurer could be involved among the tenants and occupants that placed the fire pit on the deck without knowledge of the insured landlord.

Lisa and her adjuster agreed to involve subrogation counsel with the notification process and to supervise the investigation on behalf of the mutual.

Notice was then promptly sent out to the known parties and their liability carriers. A joint inspection date was set so all interested parties had the same opportunity to examine the undisturbed scene.

The mutual retained an origin and cause fire investigator and electrical engineer to confirm the origin of the fire at the fire pit and rule out any other potential causes.

Subrogation counsel handled the notices and negotiations with the involved parties and settlement was obtained at nearly 90% of the total claim payout.

The final recovery occurred only four months after the date of loss. Lisa emphasized the immediate response of her adjuster and prompt involvement of her legal counsel and team of experts was key to the successful recovery.