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Pennsylvania Court Addresses What Is a Coverage Dispute for Appraisal Purposes

Last month, a Pennsylvania federal court rejected the notion that a dispute over whether an admittedly covered occurrence necessitated repair of certain discrete portions of the damaged structure was a coverage dispute, characterizing it instead as merely a dispute over the extent of loss.  As a result, Currie v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 2014 WL 4081051, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117970 (E.D.Pa., Aug. 19, 2014) held that the insurer could not refuse appraisal and stated that it was being “disingenuous” in arguing otherwise. The Curries were the owners of a home in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.  When Superstorm Sandy struck on October 29, 2012, the structure took a direct hit from a tree on the property.  The insurer, State Farm

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Posted in Arbitration and Appraisal, Bad Faith, Homeowners Coverage, Loss Adjustment, Superstorm Sandy

Vermont: There is No Cause of Action for Negligence in Adjusting a Property Loss

Last week, the Vermont Supreme Court firmly rejected the notion that an insured can bring a cognizable claim for negligence against his or her carrier in connection with the inspection and handling of a first-party property insurance claim.  In Helena G. Murphy v. Patriot Ins. Co., 2014 VT 96, 2014 WL 3965639, 2014 Vt. LEXIS 101 (Vt., Aug. 14, 2014), the court recognized that the relationship was “fundamentally contractual” in nature and that a policyholder’s rights flowed solely from the insurance policy and the covenant of good faith and fair dealing implied in that instrument. In July of 2007, the insured, Helena Murphy, reported damage to the roof of her house and interior water damage to her homeowner’s carrier, Patriot

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Posted in Homeowners Coverage, Investigation, Loss Adjustment, Mold, Water

Sixth Circuit Holds That Declines in Market Value are Not a Factor in Determining Actual Cash Value

In a case of first impression in Michigan, the federal Court of Appeals determined last month that general market conditions could not be considered when calculating actual cash value.  In Whitehouse Condominium Group, LLC v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., — Fed.Appx. —, 2014 WL 2743480 (6th Cir., June 17, 2014), the contract of insurance defined ACV as replacement cost less a number of factors including “obsolescence .”  The Sixth Circuit held that the word connoted only functional obsolescence as opposed to both functional and economic obsolescence. The policyholder owned a condominium building in Flint, Michigan that was heavily damaged by fire in November of 2010.  The policy afforded coverage for ACV, which was defined in the contract of insurance to mean

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Posted in Actual Cash Value, Depreciation, Fire, Loss Adjustment

California Court Holds an Adjuster May Be Personally Liable for Misrepresentations Made to the Insured

Earlier this month, an intermediate level California court rejected arguments that an insurance company’s adjuster owes no independent duty to the policyholders and cannot be liable even for “appalling” misconduct if he is acting within the course and scope of his employment. According to the panel, the adjuster occupies the same “special relationship” with the insured as the insurance carrier does, and he can, therefore, be independently liable for the tort of negligent misrepresentation during the adjustment. In Bock v. Hansen, — Cal.Rptr.3d —, 2014 WL 1315314 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. Apr. 2, 2014), Michael and Lorie Bock submitted a claim to their insurerafter a 41-foot, 7,300 pound tree limb crashed onto their home. The insurer assigned an adjuster, Craig Hansen,

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Posted in Investigation, Loss Adjustment
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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