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

November 2018 Archives

Failure to Read Insurance Policy Not Required in Deceptive Business Practice Action Against Agent

Generally, insureds are required to read their insurance policies in Texas. However, where the nature of the lawsuit brought against the agent or broker involves affirmative misrepresentations under Texas' Deceptive Business Practices statute, the insured's failure to read the insurance policy is not fatal to proceeding with that type of claim under Texas law.

Can Issuing a Supplemental ROR Letter Cure the Insurer's Failure to Seek Reimbursement in the Original ROR Letter?

In James River Insurance Co. v. Medolac Laboratories, 290 F.Supp.3d 956 (C.D. Cal. 2018) the court held that a liability insurance company's failure to seek reimbursement of defense costs in an initial reservation of rights letter did not preclude the insurance company from later reserving the right to do so from the date of a supplemental reservation of rights letter. In so holding, the court rejected the insured's contention that the insurance company had waived its right to reimbursement or was estopped from asserting the right to reimbursement of attorney's fees which were incurred after the date of the supplemental reservation of rights letter (where the insurer first reserved its right to seek reimbursement). Regarding waiver, the court held there was no evidence that the insurer's failure to assert the right in its first ROR was a voluntary relinquishment of a known right. Regarding the estoppel claim, the court found that the insured's admission that she had acted more proactively in monitoring her insurer-appointed attorney after receiving the supplemental ROR precluded a finding of detrimental reliance and therefore the necessary element of the estoppel claim was missing. 

Actual Cash Value Does Not Permit Depreciation of Labor Costs in Mississippi

The Federal District Court in Mississippi held in Titan Exterior, Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd, London, 2018 WL 1057139, _____ F.Supp.3d _____ (No. Dist. Miss. February 26, 2018) that the concept of ACV did not allow for depreciation of labor costs. In this case, the insurer calculated an ACV payment by utilizing the replacement cost value less depreciation methodology. The insurer first determined the cost to replace the damaged property and then subtracted depreciation to determine its actual cash value. The policy did not define "actual cash value" or "depreciation." The insurer argued that the plain meaning of the term "value" included labor depreciation in as much as the concept of value meant the value of the entire property, including both materials and labor when calculating depreciation. The court rejected this argument, finding that the policy was ambiguous because some states had approved labor depreciation while other states rejected labor depreciation. Finding both positions reasonable, the court held that ACV, when defined as "replacement cost value less depreciation," and when "depreciation" was not further defined in the policy, an ambiguity existed which had to be construed in favor of the insured. 

Florida Requires UIM Coverage Limits to Mirror the Policy's Liability Coverage

In Amica Mutual Insurance Co. v. Willis, 235 So.3d 1041 (Fl. App. 2d Dist. 2018) the Florida Court of Appeals held that the scope of UIM coverage must mirror the policy's liability coverage. In so finding, the Court of Appeals struck down a golf cart exclusion in the automobile policy's UIM section because there was no reciprocal exclusion in the policy's liability coverage.

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