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Can You Burn the House Down and Still Recover From Your Homeowners Insurer? An Illinois Judge Says Yes!

Someday the editors of this blog will have to create a “Hall of Shame” for most witheringly wrong-headed pieces of first-party property insurance jurisprudence, and a clear contender is a federal decision out of Illinois that came down early last month.  In Streit v. Metropolitan Cas. Ins. Co., 2015 WL 6736677, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149904 (N.D.Ill., Nov. 4, 2015), the court determined that there was coverage for a fire set by one of the insureds because the intentional acts exclusion in the contract of insurance was void.  The state’s Standard Fire Policy did not exclude intentional acts, and the judge held that that meant that fires caused by intentional conduct, “including arson, . . . must be covered.” The

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Posted in Arson, Arson and Fraud, Fire, Fortuity, Homeowners Coverage

Pennsylvania Court: Inaction When Damage is Known to Be Likely is Enough to Render the Loss Non-Fortuitous

On September 19th, a federal court in Pennsylvania held that a wall collapse was not fortuitous because the insureds knew that the wall was unstable and likely to fall and yet took no steps to correct the problem.  No one could say the loss was certain to happen, but the court effectively held that the insureds’ inaction was enough to make the collapse non-fortuitous given the likelihood that the wall would fail if it wasn’t repaired or braced.  The decision is Fry v. Phoenix Ins. Co., 2014 WL 4662481, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131504 (E.D.Pa., Sept. 19, 2014). The Frys owned a home in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania.  The house was a wood-frame structure with a stone veneer, and they noticed that

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Posted in Collapse, Fortuity, Water, Wear and Tear
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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