Insurers in the rough with Metro golf course verdict

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

An insurance company will have to pay more than a total of $500,000 to three Oakland County golf courses after a federal jury agreed it should cover ice damage to the clubs’ putting greens.

In a civil judgment filed Monday in the Eastern District of Michigan, a jury ruled that Travelers Property Casualty Co. should compensate Bloomfield Hills Country Club, Birmingham Country Club and Pine Trace Golf Club in Rochester Hills.

The golf clubs filed insurance claims after suffering damage from bad winter weather from December 2013 through April 2014, according to a complaint filed in April 2016. The weight of snow, ice or sleet on the greens at each golf course caused damage or killed the grass, the complaint said.

Attorneys for the golf clubs said the loss or damage of greens due to the weight of snow, ice or sleet was covered property under their respective insurance policies.

However, Travelers Property Casualty Co. or its related companies — Phoenix Insurance Co. or Travelers Indemnity Co. of America — denied the claims, contending the loss resulted from excluded causes, according to the complaint.

Citing that the insurance companies were in breach of contract, the golf clubs took the case to federal court. In the meantime, the golf clubs “repaired and/or replaced their greens at their own expense, and they also suffered a loss of business income.”

The judgment ordered Travelers Property Casualty Co. to pay $309,783 to Bloomfield Hills Country Club, $177,676 to Birmingham Country Club and $104,421 to Pine Trace Golf Course. It’s is a fraction of what each golf course requested for compensation, which included the loss of golf cart, and food and beverage revenue.

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