We Made the Insurance Company Pay Up

Jon Topolewski
By: Jon Topolewski
PublishedJan 23, 2024
3 minute read

Many professionals carry insurance to assist them in the event they are sued by a client. Medical or legal malpractice insurance may first come to mind, but real estate professionals also take out a similar kind of coverage.

In the case of our litigation client Phil Thomas, a Colorado real estate broker, he trusted his insurance company and its attorneys would be there to defend him if he ever got sued. Phil didn’t expect to have to use the coverage, but he knew he needed to have it — just in case. That time came in 2021 when he was unexpectedly sued by a former homebuyer for what they stated was his failure to disclose a problem with a property, a claim Phil denied.

When Phil reached out to his insurance company for help, he was left in the lurch. Phil cleared his name, but he had to dip deep into his savings to pay for an attorney. A trusted friend encouraged him to try to recover some of that money. Phil worked with Robinson & Henry to win a private settlement from the insurance company.

Hear from our client in the video below and read his story that follows.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results; each matter is different and must be judged on its own merits. Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry case.

Hit With a Double Whammy

Purchasing a home is a stressful event for most homebuyers, and Colorado real estate broker Phil Thomas is used to defusing thorny situations that may arise in the process. Months after working with some persnickety homebuyers, they reached out about a problem they said they’d found with the home.

“It had been so long since I even dealt with these people, and [I] actually thought it was a crank call,” Phil recalled. “And then I listened to [the voicemail] about three times and I finally really realized who it was.”

After brief communication with the homebuyers, Phil thought everything was resolved. More than a year later, they served him with a lawsuit.

Right away Phil reached out to his insurance company.

“I…tried to open up a claim with my insurance, and they quickly reviewed it in a couple of days and got back to me and said, you know, we’re declining,” Phil said. “I mean, that’s just a terrible feeling…Never sued anybody, never been sued. And so then, you know, I’m on my own. I don’t even know where to start.”

A technicality on an insurance renewal form was the insurance company’s excuse to deny Phil’s claim for coverage.

Phil found an attorney to defend him in the homebuyer lawsuit; the court ultimately dismissed the case. That was a weight off of Phil’s shoulders, but he felt his insurance company should have provided him with legal representation from the beginning.

Phil’s Pursuit for Justice

Phil wasn’t seeking a huge payday. He just wanted to recover some of the out-of-pocket expenses he had to fork out on his legal defense. As he cold-called attorneys — one, two, three…seven, eight, nine — he started to lose hope.

“Every time you either don’t hear from someone or you get a rejection, it wears you down,” Phil said. “You start to feel hopeless and helpless. And that maybe I did do something wrong.”

Phil decided that if 10 law firms rejected his case, he would cut his losses and move on with his life. Robinson & Henry was Phil’s final call.

A Case of Insurance Bad Faith

R&H Litigation Partner Jon Topolewski was assigned Phil’s case. Jon handles civil litigation and personal injury cases, including bad-faith insurance claims.

“Jon was able to..look at things and say, hey, you do have a case here,” Phil said. 

He recalled Jon telling him that his insurance company had a duty to defend him.

In Colorado, when an insurance company attempts to renege on its obligations, it acts in bad faith. This means that if an insurer unreasonably…

  • denies your claim,
  • delays investigating or processing your claim, or
  • refuses to defend and indemnify you against claims by others,

… they could be violating Colorado law, which states:

“A person engaged in the business of insurance shall not unreasonably delay or deny payment of a claim for benefits owed to or on behalf of any first-party claimant.” — Colorado Revised Statutes 10-3-1115 (1) (a).

After the initial meeting with Jon, Phil felt relief for the first time in months.

A Settlement is Reached

The insurance company settled with Phil. Due to a confidentiality agreement, certain details about it cannot be disclosed. One thing Phil can say is he won.

“We got them,” he said. “You know, they needed to step up and do the right thing. And, you know, that, I guess, that was the best feeling.”

‘Stick to Your Guns’

Stick to your guns. That’s Phil’s advice for others who are in a position where they feel they’ve been wronged.

“It’s validating to know I wasn’t totally alone in this,” Phil said. “If I can help somebody avoid the pitfalls that I went through, then that’s great. A lot of that is meeting Jon and Robinson & Henry and them educating me on what is the duty of insurance companies. I mean, I never would have known that had I not met you guys.”

We Hold Bad Insurance Companies Accountable 

Your insurance company collects your premiums. So if they wrongfully deny or delay your coverage, fight back. You deserve the prompt and reliable peace of mind your premiums paid for. State law says so, and so do we. If you believe your insurer is acting in bad faith, let’s talk. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your case assessment with an insurance litigation attorney.

Past results afford no guarantee of future results; each matter is different and must be judged on its own merits. Facts are those of an actual Robinson & Henry case. 

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