Steven Plitt, Expert Witness Steven Plitt, Expert Witness
Insurance Bad Faith Claim Handling Expert Serving Clients Nationwide

June 2018 Archives

NEVADA SUPREME COURT WEIGHS IN ON CANCELLATION

Recently, the Nevada Supreme Court in O.P.H. of Law Vegas, Inc. v. Oregon Mut. Ins. Co.,401 P.3d 218 (Nev. 2017) found that a cancellation notice needed to comply with the statutory requirement of giving the policyholder information about its rights to request information regarding the factual basis for the cancellation and not just providing the specific facts on which the insurer based its cancellation decision.

CONNECTICUT COURT FINDS THAT LOSS OF CONSORTIUM CLAIMS FALL WITHIN THE "PER PERSON" LIMIT OF THE AUTO POLICY

In Amica Mut. Ins. Co. v. Piquette, 176 Conn.App. 559, 168 A.3d 623 (2017) the Connecticut Appellate Court reaffirmed Connecticut law, finding that loss of consortium claims are subject to the automobile policy's same "per person" limit that was available to the principal injury claimant's claim for bodily injury. Previously, the Connecticut Supreme Court in Izzo v. Colonial Penn Ins. Co., 203 Conn. 305, 524 A.2d 641 (1987) found that a loss of consortium claim was not a different injury from the claim brought by the person principally injured. The Supreme Court held that the "per person" limit applied to all damages "because of bodily injury" sustained in the accident and therefore a husband's loss of consortium claim for injuries to his wife were "because of" the physical injuries to the wife. The Connecticut Court of Appeals followed this precedent in Piquette.

BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE FOR AUTO COVERAGE

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Kelley v. North East Insurance Co., 2017 ME. 166, ____ A.3d _____2017, 2017 WL 3138209 (Me. July 25, 2017) considered whether a dog bite incident involving the insured's dog was covered under the insured's automobile liability policy. Under the facts of the case, the insured, Theresa Snyder, had an automobile liability policy on her Ford Mustang. Snyder owned the dog with another individual, Tim McCann. Snyder and McCann were not married. At the time of the incident, McCann was driving his employer's vehicle to meet the seller of another vehicle. During the trip, McCann brought their dog with him. While the dog was in the McCann vehicle, it bit a third party. At the time, Snyder was not present, was not the driver of the vehicle (Tim McCann was), was not a passenger or the owner of the vehicle (the employer was) that the dog was in when it bit the third party.

Termite Damage Is Not The Functional Equivalent Of Building Collapse For Purposes Of First-Party Property Coverage

The Kentucky Supreme Court recently found that the insurance company's homeowners policy did not cover termite damage that did not result in the home's collapse. In Thiel v. Kentucky Growers Insurance Co., 522 S.W.3d 198 (2017) the court concluded that the insured house has not collapsed under the policy definition. Under the homeowners policy, the policy covered direct physical loss "involving the collapse of a building or part of a building caused by only the following: ". . . hidden insect or vermin decay." The policy indicated that collapse did not mean settling, cracking, bulging, or expanding. The court applied a standard dictionary definition of "collapse" to mean "to break down or go to pieces suddenly, especially by falling in of sides; to cave in." See, Niagara Fire Insurance Co. v. Curtsinger, 361 S.W.3d 762, 763 (Ky. 1962). The insured presented a claim for termite infestation that was discovered throughout the insured home which had damaged both wall paneling and flooring. Nevertheless, the Kentucky Supreme Court found that the home had not collapsed within the meaning of the insurance policy. The court adhered to the clear and ambiguous wording of the policy and gave a plain and ordinary meaning to the term "collapse" in finding no coverage. In doing so, the court refused to adopt the more lenient majority rule in the country under which the structure may not be in imminent danger of collapse, provided that the damage would substantially impair the structural integrity of the building.

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