The insurance agency denies liability for misrepresentations related to the shooting

A Pennsylvania insurance agency is denying allegations that it is responsible for denying a 2023 fire insurance claim by the owners of a Pittsburgh apartment building and voiding the property’s policy due to misrepresentations related to a shooting at the property in 2022.

The independent insurance agency said the building owners never told them about the shooting or the cancellation of the building’s previous insurer — events that were misrepresented in applications for replacement coverage submitted to Frederick Mutual.

The owners of the 900 North Group real estate firm claimed in a lawsuit filed last November that Pleasant Hills insurance agency Eber & Associates submitted an application for insurance on their behalf to Frederick Mutual in December 2022 without their signature. The company was seeking to replace coverage after the April 2022 shooting at an apartment in a building rented as Airbnb by Nationwide Insurance.

Two people died and several others were injured in the shooting. Several lawsuits have been filed on behalf of those killed and injured in the incident. 900 Answers Group is named as a defendant in those lawsuits. Nationwide declined to review the policy in December 2022, prompting 900 North Group to contact Eber & Associates, which was able to secure new coverage from Frederick Mutual.

The property owners claim they told Eber & Associates about the shooting, which they described as a “highly publicized incident in the local media.” They told the agency about the cancellation by Nationwide. They allege that the insurance agency submitted insurance applications to Frederick Mutual that contained false statements without their approval.

Eber & Associates denies they were told about the shooting or Nationwide’s non-renewal. The insurance agency also submitted evidence showing that one of the property owners signed an insurance application completed via electronic document service DocuSign on December 23, 2022.

The agency discussed the property with the parties but at no time did the owners advise the agency of the property-related issues raised in their complaints.

“None of the plaintiffs advised the defendant that the subject property had been the scene of the shooting, that the plaintiff was a defendant in multiple lawsuits, that the previous insurance carrier had failed to renew its insurance coverage, or that a claim had been made against the subject property,” the agency’s response to the lawsuit claims.

The agency said it relied on owners to provide “truthful information to complete the application.”

When the property owners submitted a claim for substantial fire damage in April 2023, Frederick Mutual denied the claim and canceled the policy because it discovered that the insurance application did not truthfully answer questions about the property’s history. Past claims, delinquencies or cancellations related to the building.

The property owners claim that no one from Eber & Associates asked anyone from the 900 Answer Group for the required information on the application, “and that the false responses contained in the application were completed only by representatives of Eber & Associates.”

They further assert that “most” of the false responses and misrepresentations were “in direct contrast” to the information provided by the 900 Answer Group to the agent during the initial discussion that submitted the application for insurance to Frederick Mutual.

According to the complaint filed by 900 North Group, an employee of the insurance agency sent an email to 900 North Group on December 21, 2022 informing them that the insurance coverage (without identifying the new insurer) was effective December 21, 2022. He also said that he had sent the application page for the policy through Dokusign. The owners say they never received an e-mail from DocuSign, which is sent when an application is ready to be reviewed or signed, and that they never saw the application, nor were they ever notified of the application’s contents.

Because of the misrepresentation, Frederick Mutual denied coverage for the April 2023 fire damage and canceled the insurance policy on October 9, 2023.

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