Insurer to Charity: Oh, You Meant Rain at the Party?

Last September’s Cattle Baron’s Ball was notable for several reasons. The big outdoor bash at Southfork Ranch in Parker marked one of the last public appearances by the late Larry “J.R.” Hagman. The annual charity event raised nearly $4 million for the American Cancer Society and its cancer-research efforts. The blowout also took place during a driving rainstorm, with the attendees in their turquoise necklaces and Western finery hoisting umbrellas, sloshing through mud, and generally getting dumped on by Mother Nature.

Because of that last point, the cancer society has filed a lawsuit against a couple of insurance brokerages which, it claims, were supposed to indemnify it in the event of rain during the party. Although an insurance policy called for the nonprofit to receive $300,000 to offset extra expenses in case it rained at least one inch, nobody allegedly noticed the fine print: the rainfall was to be measured at the nearest national weather station, which was at Collin County Regional Airport, 12 miles from Southfork. While Southfork did get the requisite inch of rain—and more—less than half an inch fell at the airport that day. Which prompted the insurer to say, “Nice try, but no cigar.” Bill Hethcock’s got the scoop on the flap, including a link to the lawsuit, over at the Dallas Business Journal.


  • D. Shapiro

    If I had used this insurance company in the past few years and had a dry party, I’d certainly be checking to see if the local airport had enough rain for a glorious payday.

  • Avid Reader

    This is a pretty important point they failed to make note of to CBB for a “weather policy”. That said, if I read the lawsuit correctly, my insurance agent technically should sit down with me every year or time I add something to my policy and go over every single one of the ins-and-outs regarding claim possibilities or qualifiers…we would meet for 15+ hours.

  • A2Z

    So, in sum: The contract said they’d get $300,000 if it rained at least one inch at the nearest national weather station. And it did not rain at least one inch at the nearest national weather station. So the policyholder did not get paid. Because the policyholder had absolutely no claim. What’s the story here? That the contract didn’t say what policyholder wished it said, after the fact? Gimme a break.

  • Brandon

    So Glenn, is your contention that the insurance company should pay even though the mutually agreed upon language in the signed contract dictates that they are not obligated to in this circumstance?

  • Avid Reader

    @A2Z and @Brandon, Pretty sure that the carrier that offered the policy is in no danger of having to pay out that $300,000 since the language is pretty clear and that the brokers (or their “malpractice” insurance, heh) is going to be on the hook for that amount and any other damages. It doesn’t seem that CBB is trying to move the goal posts after the fact, more that the brokers have a legal duty to explain the major parameters of the policy as professionals. I could be wrong and maybe the brokers explained the difference in the two options and whoever at CBB was in charge of this just purchased the cheaper option and now that they are out $300K are trying to pass the buck.