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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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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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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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