Blog Archives

Summary Judgment May Be Appropriate When Insured Fails to Take Reasonable Measures to Prevent Property Damage

Many first party property insurance policies exclude claims for water damage that occurs when the insured premises is left vacant or unoccupied, unless the insured has used reasonable care to prevent such losses. In litigation challenging the denial of such claims, whether or not the insured’s actions in preventing property damage were reasonable is generally treated as a question of fact to be decided by a jury. However, when the facts are not disputed, and there are no credibility issues presented, a court may grant summary judgment on behalf of the insurer upholding the denial. Such a result recently occurred in a Pennsylvania case involving substantial losses as a result of water damage from burst pipes. Micalis Pazianas, M.D., et

Posted in Freezing, Homeowners Coverage, Vacant or Unoccupied, Water, Water

Massachusetts Court Refuses to Apply Discovery Rule to Commencement of the Suit Limitations Period

Yesterday in Nurse v. Omega U.S.  Insurance., Inc., 2015 Mass. App. LEXIS 158, 2015 WL 5774390 (Mass.App., Oct. 5, 2015), a unanimous panel of Massachusetts’ intermediate level appellate court held that the two-year suit limitation provision in a first-party contract of insurance was not subject to a discovery rule.  The decision was a case of first impression in the Bay State’s courts (although two federal cases in the Commonwealth had split on the issue). The insured owned a three-unit residence in Boston which was vacant in December of 2009.  The heat was turned off at the time.  On December 19th, records from the city’s Water and Sewer Commission showed that the rate of water usage at the property “increased dramatically”

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Posted in Ambiguity, Freezing, Homeowners Coverage, Suit Limitation, Water

Under Texas Law, The Policyholder’s Rights to Recover For A Loss Are Not Necessarily Extinguished By A Subsequent Foreclosure

On November 27, 2013, an intermediate level Texas court handed down an opinion addressing the extent to which a policyholder’s claims for a covered loss survive foreclosure.  Peacock Hospitality, Inc. v. Association Casualty Ins. Co., 2013 WL 6188597 (Tex.App. San Antonio) arose after the policyholder Peacock Hospitality (“Peacock”) made claim against its property insurance carrier, Association Casualty Insurance Company (“Association Casualty”), for water damage from frozen pipes at a Holiday Inn.  The loss occurred on January 9, 2010. The policyholder had gone into default on its mortgage several months earlier, and the mortgagee (the “Bank”) sent Peacock a notice of acceleration and foreclosure on January 28th. On February 11th, Association Casualty tendered a check made payable to Peacock and the Bank

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Posted in Freezing, Insurable Interest, Mortgagees, Water
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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