Jackson Family Wines Sues Insurer, Says It Won't Pay Claim for Fire Damage

Jackson Family Wines sued Zurich American Insurance Co. saying Zurich has refused to pay JFW's "valid and substantiated insurance claims arising from four devastating California wildfires."

JFW purchased insurance from Zurich to insure against "(a)ll risks of direct physical loss of or damage from any cause unless excluded." JFW has submitted claims from the wildfires to Zurich, which "has engaged in a delibeerate campaign to delay the four open fire claims and avoid paying millions of dollars in claims that is clearly due under three insurance policies."

JFW said Zurich has engaged in a deliberate campaign to delay the four open fire claims and avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in coverage.  Instead of paying the claim, JFW says in the complaint, Zurich "has buried JFW in requests for information and documents (much of which Zurich already possessed), subjected JFW employees to examinations under oath, promised to provide JFW responses and never sent them, repeatedly ignored JFW’s correspondence requesting approvals and payments, failed to communicate its decisions or positions as to the existence of coverage for the purpose of delaying payment, only recently denied coverage for covered aspects of the four open claims, reversed coverage positions without any reasonable basis for doing so in order to wrongfully withhold policy benefits, withheld and refused to make payments of tens of millions of dollars that were admittedly due, and taken every opportunity to delay payment.

To date, Zurich has paid less than $70 million total on the four open fire claims combined, the complaint states.

The complaint also gives an insight into the damage suffered by JFW and other producers.  As a result of the Nuns/Tubbs Fire, JFW suffered a loss of "Gross Earnings" because (a) civil authority and closed roadways blocked access to the tasting room and its shipping operations for its direct to consumer business, and (b) civil authorities and closed roadways prevented JFW's workers from harvesting the grapes at the optimum moment resulting in more than $23,000 of wine having to be dumped because it wasn't marketable.  And this was in addition to loss of buildings, equipment, fences, shrubs and vegetation.

Similar losses were incurred from the other fires at issue.