Investigation: Lawsuit claims Home Depot not honoring damage protection insurance

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Home Depot’s insurance coverage is in the spotlight following complaints from some consumers.

A recent lawsuit could make some think twice before renting a tool from the home improvement giant.

Justine O’Brien bought a new stove from Home Depot in July.

What she hadn’t prepared for, however, was the additional expense she would pay for plumbing damage.

“They drilled a hole right through a water pipe,” O’Brien said.

She said the mishap resulted in a $300 plumbing bill and soggy drywall that needed replacing and painting.

She said she received estimates of more than $600.

“On October 14, I got a call saying, ‘Your claim has been denied,'” O’Brien recalled. “And that’s when I called Channel 6.”

USP Home, which covers Home Depot’s plumbing insurance coverage, dismissed her claim, saying its investigation “failed to reveal liability.”

But when our team contacted Home Depot, they changed course. A spokesman told Action News: “We always want to make sure our customers are taken care of. We thank her for allowing us to make this right.”

O’Brien got a check for the repairs.

However, further investigation by Home Depot found other insurance and warranty complaints regarding tool rentals and damage protection.

“This is a nationwide problem that has existed for several years,” said attorney John Lockett.

A new lawsuit filed by his company says coverage claims are wrongly denied.

Lockett and his partner Bradley Pratt filed the lawsuit to seek class action certification after a customer purchased tool rental protection for a drain camera.

Your client paid $20 for a $140 rental. When the camera became stuck and damaged, the suit claimed Home Depot wouldn’t pay for it, saying he misused the equipment and that it wasn’t covered under the contract.

“What we discovered through an internal Home Depot document is that the protection is limited to wear and tear only,” Lockett said.

And that’s despite the damage protection contract stating that repair and replacement costs are covered under “normal use”.

The lawsuit states that Home Depot billed the customer more than $3,000 for the damaged plumbing camera and late fees.

“Home Depot is the largest tool rental company in the world,” Pratt added. “So it’s a huge business and we expect to find that this is a huge profit center.”

Home Depot told Action News it could not comment on the pending lawsuit but had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Lockett and Pratt let us know that they continue to add clients to the class action, including one in our area.

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