Blog Archives

Wind Before Storm May Blow Away Flood Exclusions

Flood exclusions may not apply when floods are preceded by winds strong enough to independently cause the loss, according to a recent decision issued by the Western District of Louisiana. In Doxey v. Aegis Security Ins. Co., No. 2:21-CV-00825, 2021 WL 2383834 (W.D. La. Jun. 10, 2021), an insured sought coverage for wind damage sustained to his home by Hurricane Laura under a property insurance policy that excluded coverage for damage “caused by, contributed to or aggravated by” flooding. The policy also contained an anti-concurrent causation clause, which excluded losses caused by excluded perils “regardless of any other cause or event contributing concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.” The insurer denied coverage under the flood exclusion on the

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Causes of Loss, Windstorm

Reasonableness of Insurer’s Coverage Decision Determined by Evidence Available at Time of Decision

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that, under Iowa law, an insurer is not liable for breach of contract or bad faith if its coverage decision was objectively reasonable at the time it was made. In Hallmark Specialty Ins. Co. v. Phoenix C & D Recycling, Inc., No. 20-1339, 2021 WL 2197068 (8th Cir. June 1, 2021), a fire originated from a pile of biofuel material on an insured’s power plant, causing alleged damage to buildings, wiring, equipment, and other materials. The insurer paid for a portion of the insured’s equipment losses, but not for removal and installation of wiring and equipment because the policy did not require such payment until damaged property had been repaired or replaced.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Coverage

Appraisal Process Tolls Contractual Suit Limitation Period Even For Non-Covered Claims

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that, under Georgia law, an appraisal process tolled a commercial property policy’s two-year contractual suit limitation period even for non-covered claims. In Omni Health Solutions, LLC v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. 19-12406, 2021 WL 2025146 (11th Cir. May 21, 2021) (unpublished), the insured filed a property insurance claim with its insurer, reporting hail damage to the roof of its medical facility in Macon, Georgia, and water intrusion. The policy required the insurer to give notice of its intentions with respect to a claim within 30 days of receiving a sworn proof of loss. Following a protracted appraisal process, the insured sued the insurer in Georgia superior court for breach of contract

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith, Proof of Loss

Florida Court Holds Rust and Corrosion is “Act of Nature”

A Florida court recently held that rust and corrosion of water pipes is an “act of nature,” and, thus, was excluded from coverage under a homeowner’s insurance policy. In Dodge v. People’s Trust Insurance Company, 2021 WL 2217299 (4th DCA Jun. 2, 2021), Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals defined “act of nature” as a naturally occurring force that does not require an uncontrollable or unpreventable event. About The Authors

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Act of Nature

South Carolina Allows Depreciation of Labor Costs In ACV Calculation

Insurers in South Carolina may now depreciate both labor costs and material costs when determining the “actual cash value” (ACV) owed to policyholders for property damage. In Miriam Butler et al. v. Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Co. et al., Case No. 2020-001285 (S.C. May 12, 2021), the South Carolina Supreme Court held that insurers may depreciate labor costs to determine the ACV of a damaged property when an insurance policy does not define ACV and the “cost to repair or replace the damaged property at issue includes both materials and embedded labor components.” Id. About The Authors

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Actual Cash Value

Pennsylvania District Court Holds Materiality Does Not Require Fraud

A District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently held that an insured’s submission of invoices altered to inflate replacement costs for water-damaged inventory constituted material misrepresentations. The court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment on its claims for declaratory judgment and violation of the Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud Act; however, the court held that the altered invoices fell short of satisfying the elements of common law fraud.  About The Authors

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

Elaborate Jewelry Heist Results in No Coverage for Jewelry Store’s Loss Under Dishonest Entrustment Exclusion

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York has provided some clarity to New York businesses and their insurers dealing with loss resulting from fraudulent entrustment. In Crown Jewels Estate Jewelry, Inc. v. Underwriters At Interest At Lloyd’s London, Case No. 2020-04312 (N.Y. App. Div. May 13, 2021), the court held that coverage under a dishonest entrustment exclusion was properly denied where an individual fraudulently convinced a high end jewelry store to let him borrow five pieces of jewelry. In a Scorsese-like plot, Paul Castellana, the plaintiff, emailed Crown Jewels Estate Jewelry, a high-end jeweler, saying he worked for Sony Pictures International and asked to borrow jewelry for a video he said he was shooting with Jennifer Lopez. After

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Exclusions, Fraud

Eleventh Circuit Confirms Cleaning is not Direct Physical Loss

The Eleventh Circuit has provided some clarity to Florida businesses and their insurers dealing with COVID-19 claims. In Mama Jo’s Inc., d.b.a. Berries v. Sparta Ins. Co., No. 18-12887 (11th Cir. March 18, 2020), the Court held that a restaurant’s lost income and extra cleaning costs due to nearby roadwork did not trigger coverage because it did not involve direct physical loss or damage. In the underlying case pending in the Southern District of Florida, Mama Jo’s, Inc. v. Sparta Ins. Co., 17-CV-23362-KMM, 2018 WL 3412974, at *9 (S.D. Fla. June 11, 2018), the Court considered whether there was a direct physical loss when construction debris and dust from road work required the insured to clean its floors, walls, tables,

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Coverage, Direct Physical Loss or Damage

JPML Will Not Allow Centralization of MDL Covid-19 Lawsuits

On April 20, 2020, two policyholders involved in Covid-19 class action suits filed the first motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) asking for the transfer and coordination or consolidation of two class actions suits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with nine so-called “related actions” filed in federal courts in Illinois, Florida, New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, California, Oregon, and Texas and “subsequent tag-along actions.”[1] Others followed suit in attempting to transfer, coordinate, and/or consolidate actions into several MDLs. There are currently more than 100 insurance companies named as defendants in the cases proposed for transfer. About The Authors

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Business Interuption, Direct Physical Loss or Damage

Coronavirus: Is There Coverage Under Property Insurance Policies?

Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) has disrupted events, supply chains, sales, and entire industries.  As a result, businesses are going to look to their property insurers to recuperate lost business income, as well as expenses related to cleaning, sanitizing and decontamination.  The first lawsuit alleging a business interruption loss was filed yesterday in Louisiana, and there are most likely others that will be filed in the coming days and weeks. Almost all property policies require direct, physical loss or damage to property to trigger coverage.  Whether claims related to COVID-19 can meet this threshold requirement largely depends on whether the case law in a given jurisdiction construes the phrase “direct physical loss or damage” narrowly or broadly.  In addition, an analysis of the

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Coverage
About The Property Insurance Law Observer
For more than four decades, Cozen O’Connor has represented all types of property insurers in jurisdictions throughout the United States, and it is dedicated to keeping its clients abreast of developments that impact the insurance industry. The Property Insurance Law Observer will survey court decisions, enacted or proposed legislation, and regulatory activities from all 50 states. We will also include commentary on current issues and developing trends of interest to first-party insurers.
Subscribe For Updates

propertyinsurancelawobserver

Topics
Cozen O’Connor Blogs