Does a Protective Safeguards Endorsement Violate the Standard Fire Insurance Policy?

As discussed in my blog post last week, the 1943 New York Standard Fire Policy (“the Standard Fire Policy”), or a statutory version differing from it only slightly, is used in many states. The Standard Fire Policy potentially affords insureds more fire coverage than they may otherwise have, given the limited number of provisions which condition, suspend, limit, restrict, or exclude coverage. The Standard Fire Policy does not condition fire insurance on the insured maintaining fire-related protective devices or services, such as an automatic sprinkler system, an automatic fire alarm, and/or smoke detectors. Nor does the Standard Fire Policy exclude coverage for a fire loss if the insured failed to maintain any applicable protective device or service in complete working order. Continue Reading

Super Lawyer Rene Sigman Joins Merlin Law Group in Texas

Rene Sigman and Chip Merlin

Rene Sigman first came to my attention in 2008 at a Hurricane Ike hearing in Galveston. I told Javier Delgado that “this lawyer has her act together.” I then watched as she headed-up Mostyn Law Firm’s litigation department, winning thousands of cases resulting from Hurricane Ike and then in New York following Superstorm Sandy. We are fortunate that she wanted to join our team. She will be a great asset to our current clients, prospective clients, and public adjuster colleagues. Continue Reading

Appraisers Agreeing Not To Include Issues of Loss May Render Policyholders with No Later Recovery

Appraisals can result in losing propositions for policyholders. I often teach that policyholders need to make certain that they do their best during appraisal and not expect a bad award to get overturned. Policyholders need very hardworking, honest, and knowledgeable persons selected as their appraisers. Continue Reading

Standard Fire Insurance Policies Still Provide Basic Protections—A Major Victory for Policyholders and Merlin Law Group

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal’s opinion this week in Streit v. Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company,1 is a major victory for policyholders in Illinois. There, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the lower court judgment entered in favor of my clients, Wesley and Barbara Streit, arising out of Metropolitan’s failure to cover a fire loss to their residence in Illinois. The Seventh Circuit’s ruling establishes that an insurance policy exclusion which precludes innocent co-insureds from recovering violates the minimum level of protection afforded by the Illinois Standard Fire Policy. Continue Reading

Is Unauthorized Construction/Demolition Performed by a Tenant Covered Damage Under a First-Party Property Policy?

If a homeowner agrees to sell a home, and as part of the sale agreement allows the prospective buyer to: (1) lease the property before escrow is closed, and (2) make certain improvements to the property with the owner’s permission, but then, after taking possession during the lease, the prospective buyer tears the property down but never rebuilds it or improves it, should the homeowner’s insurance claim for the damage be covered? Continue Reading

Two different approaches to the Assignment of Benefits Issue

Assignment of Benefits (“AOBs”) has been an issue in the property insurance realm for several years. In fact, the Florida Legislature made a hard push to address the issue during the 2017 Session but was unable to do so. The two main AOB bills that gained traction last Session dealt with the issue in slightly different ways. SB 1218 was sponsored by Senator Gary Farmer. I have set forth the summary staff analysis below: Continue Reading

Court Upholds Policy Suit Limitations Provision and Holds Appraisal Award Unenforceable for Failure to File a Timely Lawsuit

This blog has often discussed the importance of carefully reading your insurance policy. It is imperative to know of your rights should your insurance claim become problematic. It is crucial to know the policy’s suit limitation clause as well as your state’s statute of limitations, so you don’t miss the filing deadline. Once this period of time lapses, your right to sue and recover your unpaid or underpaid loss is waived. Continue Reading

LexBlog