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New York Court: Undefined Word “Occurrence” in a Deductible Provision Must be Construed by the Finder of Fact

Many property policies expressly define the term “occurrence” to encompass a series of similar and related events.  Last month, however, in Rokeach v. Hanover Ins. Co., 2015 WL 2400097, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6580 (May 19, 2015, S.D.N.Y.), a New York federal court held that when the word is employed in the policy’s deductible provision without either emphasis or quotation marks, it is effectively undefined, and the question of whether it should be understood to denote a single occurrence or a series of multiple occurrences must be determined by the jury. The policyholder operated a welding business in Uniondale, and the company stored scrap metal in an ungated yard on the property.  As summarized by the court, the undisputed facts were

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Posted in Ambiguity, Deductible, Occurrence, Theft or Dishonesty

New Jersey Court Holds $22 Million “Named Storm” Deductible Applicable to a Superstorm Sandy Loss

On October 29th, a New Jersey trial court held that a commercial policyholder’s Superstorm Sandy claims were subject to a $22 million “named storm” deductible equal to 2% of the total insurable values at risk at all of the loss locations for which the insured made claim.  In Wakefern Food Corp., et al. v. Lexington Ins. Co., Case No. L-6483-13 (N.J.Super.Ct., Middlesex Cty., Oct. 29, 2014), the court held that damage had begun to occur hours before Sandy was downgraded and no longer constituted a “named storm” as defined and that that fact “created a substantial nexus between the storm and Wakefern’s total losses” justifying application of the deductible. Plaintiff Wakefern was a buying cooperative consisting of the owners of

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Posted in Deductible, Hurricane, Superstorm Sandy
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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