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21st Century Faces Class Action Over Northridge Claims Handling.

Legal rumblings are intensifying for California insurers over the 1994 Northridge earthquake; a Los Angeles law firm has filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status on behalf of policyholders of 21st Century Insurance Co.

Brian Kabateck, a partner in the law firm Quisenberry & Kabateck, said in a statement that he filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of policyholders who he said filed timely property damage claims stemming from the quake, but whose claims were allegedly mishandled.

The complaint alleges that 21st Century (formerly 20th Century) took part in unfair and fraudulent business practices to minimize the benefits it had to pay to insureds whose property sustained damage in the Jan. 17, 1994, earthquake.

More than 4,000 policyholders may be part of the class.

"The lawsuit is alleging that 21st Century deliberately lowballed policyholders on the estimated damage from the earthquake or tried to attribute the damage to pre-existing conditions of the property" Kabateck said. "The insurance company is also alleged to have used unlicensed, uncertified or unqualified contractors, engineers and testing companies to assess and estimate damage and losses."

Under a new California law, policyholders may sue their insurance companies to force them to reopen previously rejected insurance claims related to the Northridge quake. The law gives policyholders another year, from Jan. 1, 2001, to Jan. 2, 2002, to sue insurers for unfair practices relating to Northridge claims.
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Comment:21st Century Faces Class Action Over Northridge Claims Handling.
Publication:Best's Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
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