Construction company says insurer failed to forward premium payments

Kelly Holleran Jan. 19, 2009, 8:52am

Higgins Construction is seeking more than $3 million in damages after it says an insurance agency failed to forward payments on a policy Higgins purchased.

Higgins Construction bought a policy from DLE Insurance Agency Corp. for coverage effective from March 1, 2005, until March 1, 2006, according to the complaint filed Jan. 12 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Then on Jan. 9, 2006, and on Aug. 9, 2006, two accidents occurred, and Higgins Construction submitted claims with DLE, the suit states.

However, because DLE failed to forward the premium payments to Safeco Insurance Company, the claims were denied, Higgins Construction claims.

Because the claims were denied, Higgins Construction suffered a loss of use of equipment, property damage to a truck of $5,441.54, loss of personal property totaling more than $30,000, loss of profits of $250,000 and paid medical coverage to employees, according to the complaint.

DLE was negligent by failing to forward premiums to Safeco, by improperly holding Higgins Construction's premiums, by failing to keep a proper balance in the premiums fiduciary trust account, by improperly taking commissions, by failing to maintain accurate records of incoming and outgoing revenues and by failing to accurately record Higgins Construction's name and address, the suit states.

DLE's actions constitute unfair and deceptive practices, a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, Higgins Construction claims.

Safeco was also negligent through the actions of its agency, according to the complaint.

In the 10-count suit, Higgins Construction is seeking a judgment in excess of $525,000, compensatory damages in excess of $150,000 and punitive damages of $3 million, plus costs and pre-judgment interest.

It is represented by Bob L. Perica of The Perica Law Firm in Wood River.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-0021.

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