Vortens Toilet Tanks

Last year, we announced that Vortens was having problems with their toilet tanks and as a result, home and business owners were experiencing cracking and subsequent water damage. Recently we heard from two owners who had encountered the defective tanks. A photo of a cracked tank is shown below. The fact that we heard from two owners confirms that defective tanks are still in use and consumers want to know what to do. If your property is insured, contact your carrier as soon as possible, take pictures of all damage including the failed tank pieces. If you start cleaning up, do not discard anything. It is especially important to save all of the pieces of the tank; your carrier’s adjuster or investigator will want to take possession of all evidence. Be sure to make notes of all phone calls, meetings, and happenings that take place in regard to repairing your property. The notes will come in handy if you have to go to court and testify against the manufacturer. On the other hand if you are not insured, you can try to file a claim with the manufacturer directly. If that doesn’t work, you can try and find an attorney who will take your case on a contingency fee basis. That is, the attorney will work on your case and will be paid only if you collect anything. Typically, attorneys working on a contingency fee basis will take 33% of what ever is awarded.

Cracked Vortens Toilet Tank

Cracked Vortens Toilet Tank

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Would you Hire an Expert to Help you Deal With an Insurance Company?

In my last post, I talked about how people sometimes get angry when they find out that their claim is about to be denied because some engineer doesn’t see things their way.  All of a sudden, the engineer becomes a target for some nasty comments.  I also mentioned that insurance companies aren’t the only ones that could hire an engineer or any other expert for that matter.  Individual policyholders can do the same thing.  However, the reason that most don’t is because of the expense, preferring instead, to allow the insurance company to hire the expert.  I’ve thought about this quite a bit and am wondering if this is really true.  How many policyholders would actually hire an engineer (or adjuster, appraiser, etc) to determine if they have a claim and then pursue it if there is merit?  After practicing forensic engineering for over 20 years, I’ve lost count of the number of times that people have told me how cheated they have felt when their claims were denied.  Some believe that paying premiums faithfully for years entitles them to an unquestionable settlement.  Others believe that an investigation by an engineer, private investigator, or other expert amounts to an invasion of privacy and is insulting at the very least.  Regardless of a consumer’s attitude, it is in their best interest to engage the appropriate expert (if affordable).  Imagine having somebody on your side when you enter into negotiations with your insurer. Or, imagine when, there is a disagreement between you and your insurer about how your property was damaged and, you have someone to speak on your behalf.  Remember that your expert is not your “mouthpiece”. In other words, you are not hiring someone to speak for you regardless of the facts.  If you hire an engineer, the evidence must support your contentions if that person is to be able to present your case and DEFEND it.  If the facts don’t support your position, your engineer (or any other expert) is obligated to advise you.  In other words, the engineer has to make an unbiased call based on the evidence.  If the claim goes to court, the last thing you need is to have your expert’s testimony disqualified because of bias. 

So, having said all of the above, would you hire an expert to review your claim and help you deal with your insurance company?

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