Alaska Native non-profit sues Texas insurance company over earthquake damage

Shakemap of Nov. 30, 2018 quake
Shakemap of the Nov. 30, 2018 earthquake, 7 miles northwest of Elmendorf AFB

A large Alaska Native non-profit 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 Company, 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 breech 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.

Related: Trump Administration approves money for earthquake recovery

“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, the organization’s communications director. “Unfortunately, CITC has not yet received full claimed damages.”

CITC is the non-profit arm of Cook Inlet Region, Inc., an Alaska Native corporation serving 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.

Read all coverage of the November 2018 earthquake and recovery

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

Related: Builders in Anchorage await a mini-boom from earthquake repairs

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Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. @ZachHughesAK About Zachariah