Allstate again writes policies in Alaska

Posted: Tuesday, September 09, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Insurance giant Allstate has started writing new Alaska homeowner policies again, a month after the company stopped.

The company is seeking to cap the amount it could be asked to pay for mold damage. It halted sales after a year and a half of paper shuttling with the state's Insurance Division had not produced an agreement.

An agreement has still not been reached, said company spokesman Scott Richardson, but talks are going well.

''We're going to be able to make this work,'' Richardson said.

Division Director Linda Hall said, ''We're just working on the final small parts of language.''

Insurance companies have sought a limit to mold damage nationwide after damage from claims-related lawsuits spiked into the millions and dragged home insurance prices upward in Texas and California.

Allstate is one of the top insurers of homes in Alaska. The company said it put a moratorium on home policies for new customers in early August out of concern that it might not be able to adequately cover current customers in the state, and frustrations with the Alaska Division of Insurance's processing speed.

Hall said her staff had been working on the company's request, asking for changes or additional information. The Allstate case has taken extraordinarily long, she said. The division has granted other companies' limit filings, such as a $10,000 cap to Safeco. Allstate asked for a $5,000 limit.

Homeowners insurance was never intended to cover mold damage from maintenance issues such as a leaky roof, said insurance company officials, only from accidents such as water damage after firefighters douse a fire.

Juries, however, have interpreted policies differently. One Texas homeowner was awarded $32 million before a judge reduced the amount to $4 million.

Most states Allstate serves accepted the cap language, Richardson said, or acceptance is pending.

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