What can I do regarding obtaining a second quote regarding fire damage?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What can I do regarding obtaining a second quote regarding fire damage?

My car caught fire in my garage almost 6 months ago and all my belongings inside the garage were burned, plus the inside of the garage has some damage. My landlord, a housing authority, is taking out a claim against my insurance but it is only covering $25,000. The housing authority has had several different contractors come out and evaluate the property. They went with a contractor that quoted the repair to be $62,000 for 1 small garage that has no structural damage. I thought that since I am expected to pay the difference out of pocket that I should be able to get another quote but was told I could not. What can I do?

Asked on September 17, 2018 under Insurance Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is no inherent right to a second quote. What you could do is refuse to pay on the grounds that the price is excessive: they are only allowed to get a "reasonable price" (which may still, of course, be higher than you'd like to pay); if and when they take legal action against you, they'd have to prove that the price was reasonable. You may wish to get a contractor quote yourself: that will give you an idea of how unreasonable the price is and you could use the quote (and call  the contrator to testify) as evidence if legal action is take against you. If this happens, a court will determine a reasonable cost and order you to pay it.
And even more basically--you are ONLY responsible to pay for the damage if they can show that you caused the damage through negligence, or carelessness, such as if you were aware of some fault or problem with the car that could cause it to catch fire but not take steps to have it corrected. If you were not at fault in some way, you do not have to pay; liability (having to pay) depends on fault.
But bear in mind that if you are in subsidized housing and paying less than market rent, the typical lease for a such a property (e.g. the "HUD model lease") requires tenants to pay for damage they cause. If you refuse to pay and IF they can show that you were at fault for the damage, then refusing to pay for the damage (or at least not paying whatever would be a reasonable cost therefore) could expose you to eviction and jeopardize your subsidy.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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