Insurance Law

    • 24 Nov 2015

    West Virginia Supreme Court Clarifies Application of Landlords’ Homeowner’s Insurance Policy to Tenant’s Insurable Interest

    The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (“WVSCA”) recently rejected a circuit court decision finding that a tenant is an “equitable insured” under his landlords’ homeowner’s policy, which had precluded the landlords’ insurer from pursuing a subrogation claim against the tenant for damages caused to the premises. In rejecting this argument, the WVSCA clarified that a tenant...
    • 12 Nov 2015

    High Fire Season Followed by El Niño Sets California Policyholders On Collision Course With Property Insurers

    Regular readers of the SFGate website saw two familiar headlines on September 10, 2015. The first – “Northern California wildfire explodes in size” – would not have been unusual on any summer day in California, particularly in the last four years as an historic drought has ravaged the Western United States. Wildfires, always a feature of the dry season in the West, have increased in size and intensity...
    • 23 Sep 2015

    Why is a National Flood Insurance Program Policy Not Insurance?

    Fulfill the Condition Strictly or Get Nothing Contrary to what it is called, the National Flood Insurance Program is not insurance. It is, rather, a government funded entitlement that can only pay claims by dipping into the treasury of the United States. As a result, unlike insurance policies, federal courts strictly construe the language of the National Flood Insurance policy. In the majority of state jurisdictions...
    • 16 Sep 2015

    California Court Holds That Scope of Repair Is Appraisable

    By Samuel H. Ruby For the first time in a published decision, a California Court of Appeal has squarely held that insurance appraisers must resolve disagreements over the scope of repair and cannot merely price the competing scopes submitted by the policyholder and the insurer. While reaffirming the principle that appraisers cannot resolve coverage issues, the decision provides welcome clarification that the extent...
    • 14 Sep 2015

    Washington Supreme Court Defines "Collapse" to Include "Substantial Impairment of Structural Integrity"

    By Daniel R. Bentson In Queen Anne Park Homeowners Ass'n v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. , [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: lexis.com | Lexis Advance ], the Washington Supreme Court held that the term "collapse," when left undefined in a first-party property insurance policy, includes "substantial impairment of structural integrity" ("SISI"). The case...
    • 14 Sep 2015

    Federal Agencies Finalize Flood Insurance Rules

    Federal regulators have finalized a joint rule that amends regulations relating to loans secured by properties in special flood hazard areas. The final rule implements changes to the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (FDPA) as mandated by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA) and the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (the Biggert-Waters Act). Matters addressed by the final...
    • 11 Sep 2015

    Insurance Coverage and Anger Management

    Tapas: Small Dishes of Insurance Coverage News & Notes A Wisconsin appeals court held in Szerbowski v. Trinka, No. 2014AP2493 (Wis. Ct. App. July 21, 2015), [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: lexis.com | Lexis Advance ], that no coverage was owed under a homeowner’s policy because bodily injury was not caused by an “occurrence.” The entire case can be described this...
    • 17 Aug 2015

    How to Defeat an Arson for Profit Attempt – Suspected Arsonist’s Bad Faith Suit Fails

    Arson-for-profit is the most dangerous of all methods of attempting insurance fraud. When an insurer has sufficient evidence to suspect an arson for profit attempt and denies the claim it will expect that the insured will sue the insurer for fraud and bad faith. The best way to defeat such an action is one piece at a time by bringing motions for partial summary judgment removing the expensive part of the suit leaving...
    • 5 Aug 2015

    Can Murder Ever Be Accidental? – Tenant is Not an Insured

    By definition liability insurance never applies to an intentional act. When a person rents a room in her house to a convicted felon with a history of violence and then gives the tenant a gun to use as he desires, she cannot claim that when the felon kills her son-in-law, that the shooting was an accident and covered by her insurance policy for negligently letting him have the gun. Murder, established by a conviction beyond...
    • 24 Jun 2015

    Appraisal Award Binding – Payment of Appraisal Award Satisfies Policy Promise to Indemnify

    In an opinion expressing the brevity required of a decision on an issue of insurance law that is patently obvious, the Missouri Court of Appeal decided in James-Miller v. American Family Mutual Insurance , — S.W.3d —-, 2015 Mo. App. LEXIS 609 (Mo.App. E.D., 6/9/2015), [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], that an appraisal award is binding on the parties to a first party property insurance...
    • 23 Jun 2015

    Ninth Circuit Holds Property Damage Directly Caused By Fire

    In Stankova v. Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance Company , 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8935 (9th Cir. May 29, 2015), [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, applying Arizona law, had the opportunity to address the concept of “direct causation” for the purpose of a homeowners insurance policy. Appellant Magda Stankova (“Stankova”) was...
    • 22 Jun 2015

    Texas Supreme Court Blows Away Coverage For Hurricanes

    Tapas: Small Dishes of Insurance Coverage News & Notes Texas Supreme Court Blows Away Coverage For Hurricanes Coverage for hurricanes was all the talk in the few years following Katrina. Much of the action focused on Louisiana and Mississippi law. The topic has been relatively quiet over the past few years. The main issue is this. Homeowner’s policies generally cover wind but not water damage. Hurricane...
    • 18 Jun 2015

    Is There Coverage for Assaulting Your Employee? Business Dispute Not Covered by Homeowners

    A Homeowners policy provides worldwide liability insurance coverage to the homeowners subject to various exclusions and limitations. In Perry v. Hartford Underwriters Insurance Company , Not Reported in A.3d, 2015 Del. Super. LEXIS 267 (Del.Super., 6/3/2015), [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], a physical confrontation between an employer and the person he fired resulted in both a criminal prosecution...
    • 11 Jun 2015

    When Is a Landslide a Fire? Ninth Circuit Finds Fire To Be Direct Cause of Landslide that Destroyed House

    Those of us who live in the western United States see wildfires on a regular basis. Fire is a named peril and is covered by a simple fire policy and by a homeowners or commercial property policy. Landslides and mudslides that follow wildfires because the fire burned off the vegetation that would hold the soil in place after a rain are excluded as surface water, mudflow or landslide. Most prudent homeowners who live in...
    • 11 Jun 2015

    Emily Post Would Not Approve: He Really Said That? And Then That?

    There is no other way to put it. Amica Mutual Ins. Co. v. Vernon, 14-235 (D. Idaho Apr. 17 2015), [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], is a coverage case that grows out of a sad situation. The unfortunate story is told by the court right from the get go. I’ll just set it out here: “Defendant Russell Vernon and now deceased Roberta McIntire worked at Century Link in Boise, Idaho. The...
    • 6 May 2015

    April Fool's Day Sees National Flood Insurance Rates Rise

    By J. Wylie Donald So what day would you pick to have your flood insurance premium double? April Fool's Day? You got it. Well, that's a little hyperbolic. Rates aren't doubling instantaneously tomorrow. Instead they are rising between 10% and 18% per year until they match commercial rates. There is a set of exceptions to the 18% cap. There can be up to a 25% increase on non-primary residences, so...
    • 14 Apr 2015

    Mortgagee Not Required to Buy Liability Insurance for Borrower

    Insurance companies only sell the insurance requested by the insured not the insurance that the insured should have purchased. Mortgagees, who require insurance on the property that was security for a loan require that the mortgagor purchase hazard insurance to protect the mortgagee against loss of its security by fire or some other hazard. To assist its customers most lenders will keep an escrow account to be certain...
    • 7 Apr 2015

    Going to Pot: How to Lose Fire Insurance Coverage

    Members of the public think that the covenant of good faith and fair dealing only applies to the insurer and the insured can do whatever they want and hide important information from the insurer to avoid increased premium or loss of coverage. In Michigan endorsements added to homeowners policies require the insured to report any change in risk on penalty of losing coverage. In Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. McDermott...
    • 1 Apr 2015

    The Ice Dam Cometh: Insurance Coverage and Solutions For Roof Damage

    B y Rich Vetstein As we shovel out from the snowiest winter in history, the Greater Boston area will soon be facing a new and potentially more destructive situation — ice dams and roof collapses. This could be the worst winter ever for ice dams and roof issues due to the ridiculous amount of snow still stuck on our roofs. I’ll take a minute to go over the insurance issues and preventative measures you should...
    • 31 Mar 2015

    Arson-for-Profit Fails Because of Lack of Insurable Interest and Misrepresentation: Insurance Competence Needed to Commit Insurance Fraud

    Arson is relatively easy. Pour some gasoline and light a match and a fire will burn. Successfully turning an arson fire into profit is more difficult and requires some knowledge of insurance and insurance claims. In Ross v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Co ., Slip Copy, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18707 (S.D.Ohio, 2/17/15), [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio...
    • 15 Jan 2015

    Report Promptly, Sue Quickly or Else – Private Limitations of Action Provision Enforceable

    First-party property insurance policies always include a prompt reporting requirement and a private limitations of action provision. Even if the claim is reported promptly once it is denied the insured should never sit on his/her/its rights before filing suit ignoring the private limitation of action provision in the policy. In Northpointe Commerce Park, LLC v. Cincinnati Ins. Co ., Slip Copy, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS...
    • 30 Sep 2014

    The Napa Earthquake – The Time To Think About Insurance Coverage Is Now

    By David Smith Last month's Napa earthquake served as a wake-up call for everyone living and working in the Greater Bay Area. As with all natural disasters, after the immediate clean-up is over the analysis will begin as to how to make buildings safer and how to prevent and minimize injuries and damage. But if you have a business that was affected by the earthquake, now is the time to be looking at your insurance...
    • 4 Sep 2014

    No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Negligence of Adjuster Not Basis for Bad Faith

    Insurance adjusters are people knowledgeable in insurance retained by an insurer for the purpose of assisting the insured in proving a loss to the insurer. A person who expresses to the insured the fidelity and good faith of the insurer. The adjuster is not expected nor required to be perfect. In Murphy v. Patriot Ins. Co. — A.3d —-, 2014 Vt. LEXIS 101 (Vt.), 2014 VT 96 (Supreme Court of Vermont, 8/14/14)...
    • 15 Jul 2014

    Court Looks For Fair Way To Interpret Golf Cart Coverage: Insurer Gets It Rough And Insured Gets The Green

    Lots of courts have addressed whether golf carts are “autos” for purposes of liability and automobile policies. I’ve confronted the issue a couple of times and it’s an interesting one. The Court of Appeals of Georgia just had a golf cart coverage case before it. But the issue in American Strategic Ins. Corp. v. Helm, No. A14A0466 (Ga. Ct. App. June 9, 2014), [ enhanced version available to lexis...
    • 26 Jun 2014

    Farmers Insurance Withdraws Class Action Alleging Failure to Adapt to Climate Change

    On June 3, 2013, a group of lawsuits that generated significant interest among environmental lawyers were abruptly withdrawn .[1] The cases notably alleged a novel theory of liability and duty of care regarding climate change projections. In Illinois Farmers Insurance Co. v. Metro Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago [2](and related cases found here ,[3] here ,[4] here ,[5] and here [6]), Farmers requested class...