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Minnesota Harmonizes the Mortgage Clause and the Vacancy Clause

Two days ago, Minnesota’s highest court unanimously held that a mortgagee’s recovery for vandalism damage to a vacant building is only barred by the vacancy clause if the insured’s acts caused the vacancy.  The decision is  Commerce Bank v. West Bend Mut. Ins. Co., 2015 WL 6498468, 2015 Minn. App. LEXIS 85 (Minn., Oct. 28, 2015)   If breached, the vacancy clause still automatically operates to void coverage for the insured, but it does not necessarily do the same for the mortgagee, and the determination entails addressing a question of fact. The policyholder had a building in Burnsville that had been vacant for four months when the mortgagee/bank was added to the contract of insurance.  Seven months later, while still vacant,

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Posted in Mortgagees, Vacancy and Unoccupancy, Vandalism

Oklahoma Court Holds the Policyholder Can Also Be the Vandal

Earlier this week an Oklahoma federal court addressed a mortgagee’s claim for vandalism loss – a topic we also discussed in Wednesday’s post.  In American Modern Home Ins. Co. v. Tulsa Fed. Credit Union, 2015 WL 2372549, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64491 (E.D.Okla., May 18, 2015), the court rejected an insurer’s argument that because the vandalism was done by the insured, it could not constitute the covered peril of “vandalism” in a situation in which the policy neglected to define that term. The insured owned a house and secured a homeowners policy that also extended coverage to his mortgagee.  The mortgage company instituted foreclosure proceedings and the policyholder vacated the dwelling, but only after removing fixtures and damaging property to

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Posted in Ambiguity, Homeowners Coverage, Loss Payees, Mortgagees, Theft or Dishonesty, Vandalism

Illinois Court Holds Vacancy Clause Does Not Bar Vandalism and Theft Claim by Mortgagee

In a case of first impression in Illinois, a unanimous panel of the state’s Appellate Court recently addressed the interplay between a vacancy clause and a mortgagee provision and held that the insured’s failure to comply with the former did not preclude recovery by the mortgage company after vandals did over $2 million in damage.  In Old Second Nat’l Bank v. Indiana Ins. Co., 2015 IL App. (1st) 140265, — N.E.3d –, 2015 WL 1283867, 2015 Ill. App. LEXIS 185 (Mar. 20, 2015), it held that the vacancy clause was a condition subsequent to coverage and that its violation therefore only operated to bar the policyholder’s claim even though the structure – unbeknownst to the insurer — had been vacant

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Posted in Conditions, Loss Payees, Mortgagees, Theft or Dishonesty, Vacant or Unoccupied, Vandalism

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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