Alaska Native nonprofit sues Texas insurance company over earthquake damage

Downtown anchorage seen from just west of Earthquake Park on the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet.
Downtown Anchorage seen from the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet. (Creative Commons photo by Luke Jones)

An Alaska Native nonprofit in Anchorage is suing its insurance company for million of dollars in what it alleges are unpaid claims over damages from last year’s earthquake.

On Monday, lawyers for Cook Inlet Tribal Council filed a lawsuit in federal court against United Specialty Insurance Co., saying it has refused to “investigate, adjust, and pay” for property loss in the year since the 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

In court documents, CITC said its insurer has dragged its feet reviewing damage claims, avoiding payment for losses covered under their policy, which could constitute a breach of contract. The lawsuit asks that CITC be awarded upwards of $6 million in damages, as well as the cost of legal fees, because the insurance company’s “acts of bad faith were outrageous,” and “evidenced reckless indifference” to their client.

“After immediately putting its insurer on notice of the damage and loss, CITC has been attempting to recover its losses due under the policy for the last 12 months,” wrote Brad Hillwig, CITC’s communications director. “Unfortunately, CITC has not yet received full claimed damages.”

CITC serves tribal members in communities stretching from Chickaloon to Seldovia. Its offices in east Anchorage were damaged badly enough that many of its programs are still operating out of different locations.

United Specialty Insurance Co. is a subsidiary of a larger insurance group, State National Insurance Co., based in Texas. The company did not respond to multiple messages Tuesday seeking comment.

Alaska Public Media

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