Blog Archives

The Elephant in the Room – Catastrophic Property Damage from a Cyber Attack

This past October was the country’s first National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and that makes it an appropriate time to touch on a very troubling first-party exposure.  Every day brings news of massive cyber attacks on retailers, financial institutions, and hospitals and healthcare companies, with the aim of stealing digital assets such as Personally Identifiable Information (PII).  What has received far, far less attention, however, is the prospect of a cyber attack designed to escape the virtual world in order to do physical damage to tangible property in the real one. The ultimate risk is enormous.  Computerized industrial control systems run the world’s financial institutions, its manufacturing and chemical facilities, its transportation systems, and its energy infrastructure, including the electrical

Posted in Cyber, Cyber Insurance, Explosion, Fire, Terrorism Insurance

Colorado Court Conducts a Clinic on Explosions

Earlier this month in Paros Properties v. Colorado Cas. Ins. Co., 2015 WL 5139293, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116939 (D.Colo., Sep. 2, 2015), a federal court in Colorado addressed what constitutes an explosion.  After a mudslide knocked down part of its building, the insured contended that the structure had sustained a “violent breaking apart” and therefore an explosion, but the judge held otherwise.  In her opinion, the term “explosion” required that a force from within the object cause it to expand violently and burst apart in all directions. The insured owned a commercial building in Boulder, a city which experienced unprecedented rainfall in September of 2013.  On September 12th, “a violent flow of water, mud, rocks, trees, and other debris traveled

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Posted in Collapse, Exclusions, Explosion, Mudslide, Water

New York’s Highest Court Enforces a Water Damage Exclusion Despite an Ensuing Loss Exception

In Platek v. Town of Hamberg, et al., 2015 WL 685726, 2015 N.Y. LEXIS 252 (N.Y., Feb. 19, 2015), the New York Court of Appeals held that an exclusion for water below the surface of the ground was unambiguous and operated to bar coverage when a subsurface water main burst and flooded the insureds’ basement.  The policyholders’ attempt to invoke an ensuing loss exception to the exclusion was also rejected in an opinion that surveys the historical genesis of ensuing loss provisions and explains the limited circumstances under which they operate to restore coverage. The insureds, Frederick and Mary Platek, owned a home in Hamberg, New York.  On September 7, 2010, a subsurface water main abutting their property ruptured, flooding

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Posted in Ambiguity, Burden of Proof, Ensuing Loss, Explosion, Flood, Water

New Jersey Court: Loss of Use – Without More – Can Be “Direct Physical Loss or Damage”

Last month, a New Jersey federal court held that the term “direct physical loss of or damage to” property did not require that the property be physically altered in any permanent way.  In Gregory Packaging, Inc. v. Travelers Property Cas. Co., 2014 WL 6675934, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165232 (D.N.J., Nov. 25, 2014), the court determined that an ammonia release that rendered the insured manufacturing plant unusable until the gas had been dissipated “physically transformed the air” within the facility and thereby inflicted direct physical loss or damage to the plant. Gregory Packaging manufactured and sold juice cups, and it was in the process of installing a refrigeration system at a new plant in Newman, Georgia when anhydrous ammonia was

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Posted in Direct Physical Loss or Damage, Explosion, Seepage or Leakage

With Respect to Discoverability, Indiana Federal Court Distinguishes Between Pre-Suit and Post-Suit Reserves

In May, we reported on a Third Circuit decision holding that loss reserve information was generally irrelevant and not discoverable.  In October, a federal court in Indiana came to the same conclusion with respect to post-suit reserves.  In G & S Metal Consultants, Inc. v. Continental Casualty Co., 2014 WL 5431223, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151431 (N.D.Ind., Oct. 24, 2014), the court agreed that reserves established after litigation were irrelevant because of the multiplicity of factors that were necessarily considered in establishing them.  The opinion suggests that pre-suit reserves are discoverable unless they have been set in anticipation of litigation and consultation with counsel, however. G & S Metal Consultants filed suit for property damage and business interruption loss after

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Posted in Discovery, Explosion, Privilege, Reserves

Insurers Say “Over My Dead Body” to Claims for Damage From Decomposition

Last April saw decisions handed down in Pennsylvania and Florida that addressed the ghoulish question of whether first-party policies cover property damage from a decomposing body, and the courts in both jurisdictions held that the answer in no.  A word of warning – the balance of this post is not for the squeamish. The first decision was Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London v. Creagh, — Fed.Appx. —, 2014 WL 1408868 (3rd Cir. , April 14, 2014).  The insured owned a building in Philadelphia where a tenant died in the bathroom of a second floor apartment.  The body went undiscovered for two weeks, by which time bodily fluids had seeped through the floor, contaminating both the apartment itself and parts

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Posted in Decomposition, Explosion, Microorganisms, Seepage or Leakage

The Fourth Circuit Clarifies Who Is A Direct Supplier Under Contingent Business Interruption Coverage

In Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, Ltd. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. et al., — F.3d. — , 2014 WL 642993 (4th Cir., Feb. 20, 2014), the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently clarified who constitutes a direct supplier of goods and services under contingent business interruption (CBI) insurance, and it specifically rejected arguments that the undefined term “direct” in the coverage grants of the CBI endorsements at issue was ambiguous in nature. The policyholder, Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, Ltd., processed titanium dioxide at its facility in Western Australia, using natural gas that it received via a pipeline.  It purchased the gas from Alinta Sales Pty Ltd., a retail gas supplier.  Alinta, in turn, purchased the gas it

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Posted in Ambiguity, Business Interuption, Contingent Business Interruption, Explosion
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.
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