Great American Insurance takes the "Smoke and Mirrors" Award

The insurance industry never ceases to amaze me. Occasionally, the industry amazes me for something they have done to positively change the lives of individuals they touch. Unfortunately, the insurance industry usually amazes me by the greed they exhibit when dealing with their policy holders and the public at large. Recently, the Great American Insurance Company may have taken the prize -- literally -- for the extreme position they filed with the Houston Federal Court attempting to invoke an insurance policy exclusion to avoid paying a fire claim.

In the inaugural year, Great American Insurance Company is the winner of the 2008 "Smoke and Mirrors" Award. This award will be given annually to the insurance company that takes the greediest or most ridiculous position in a calendar year. In 2008, Great American may have done both.

This insurance company provided insurance to Boxer Property Management Company and 9343 North Loop L.P. for the building located at 9343 North Loop East. The six-story building had a fire in March 2007 in which 11 people were trapped as a result of the thick smoke that was a natural byproduct of the fire. Eight people were rescued by the valiant efforts of the Houston Fire Department, while three truly "great Americans" lost their lives as a result of smoke inhalation. Great American provided a $25 million excess insurance policy that would cover the wrongful death liability of Boxer and 9343 for these three deaths, but Great American has now denied their liability under a "pollution exclusion" provision of the insurance policy. They argue that because the word "smoke" is in the definition of pollution in the "pollution exclusion", and these mothers and this father died from smoke inhalation (not burning to death), then Great American does not have to pay under the policy. I assume we should all recognize that if we are faced with a life ending scenario, we should jump in the flames to make sure the insurance company remains obligated to its insurance policy.

We should all be outraged by the conduct of insurance companies who take such ludicrous positions, such as this one take by Great American. But hey -- it won them the inaugural "Smoke and Mirrors" Award. Maybe Great American Insurance will tout this award on their website the same as they tout their company as a "trusted" specialty insurance partner whose employees "are expected to conduct themselves with integrity in a legal, ethical and moral manner." Great American states on its website that it focuses on insurance products and services in areas they have significant expertise and knowledge. I guess their expertise is really in collecting premiums while not paying out claims to the detriment of their customers and the public at large.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories