How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask TexLaw Your Own Question
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
Type Your Legal Question Here...
TexLaw is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I was living with my in-laws when there was a house fire. Our

This answer was rated:

I was living with my in-laws when there was a house fire. Our content claim was finalized and the check was sent to my mother-in-law whose name the insurance is under. The inventory list showed the amount for each floor. Now my mother-in-law doesn't want to give me the full amount of the money that is my share. Do I have any legal rights? How do I go about getting the money for my stuff that was damaged in the fire. Please help me!!!

Yes, you have a claim in equity against your mother in law for the portion of the insurance benefits that are to reimburse for your property less the cost of insurance. She does not have a right to claim for property that was not hers on an insurance policy. However, she has a right to reimbursement of a proportional amount of the insurance costs that you would have had to pay.

Have you told her that claiming property on her insurance that is not hers would be considered insurance fraud? I would tell her this, and then tell her that you will reimburse her for your portion of the fire insurance contents policy in exchange for her paying you the amount due to you.

If she does not agree, you could sue her, but you'd have to do this in the district court (court of general jurisdiction), as it is an equity claim.

Please let me know if you have further questions. Please also remember to rate my answer positively so that I am compensated for my work on your question by the website.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So I am entitled to that money for my contents right? I thought that I may not be able to get it because the insurance policy is under her name. What are some steps I should take incase she refuses to give me the money?

You have a potential equitable claim for the money that you could assert in court. It's not a sure fire win of a case.

Although she did have the insurance, she did not have an insurable interest in your property and thus is not entitled to keep the insurance proceeds. Ultimately, the insurance company is actually entitled to take the proceeds back because she committed fraud by claiming them as her contents when in fact the property belonged to you.

Thus, you could file a claim in court and ask for an equitable portion of the proceeds. You would have to sue her. How much do you believe she owes you and in what state are you located?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am located in PA. My amount for my damaged content is 47,545.62. She only wants to give me 24,000 and keep the rest for herself.

You are going to face a hard time getting more than 24,000.00 and pay a lot more in attorney's fees to get the extra $20+.

Again, this is because she would have a claim for an equitable reimbursement for a portion of the insurance costs she incurred while you were there. Also, this would be an extremely difficult legal claim to bring that would require a top notch insurance lawyer to bring. The law does not allow you to recover attorneys fees and a claim like this would cost at least $30,000 for the kind of attorney you would need to file it.

That being said, the $24,000 offer seems fair. However, you could push for more by reminding her that she has committed insurance fraud, and you could report her.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I figure that much. I'm trying to not let things go that route. I only lived there for 1 1/2 years. I'm sure her insurance policy for that time period didn't amount to 23,000. I would have gladly given her 10k which I think is fair, but I just wanted to know what my options are since she refuses to give me what I am due. Sorry for going on and on.

No problem. I'm sorry this happened to you, as certainly its not right that she keeps the money.
TexLaw and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you