The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (“TDCI”) “regulates and licenses both individuals and corporations, assesses suspicions of fraud, and provides resources to . . . citizens of Tennessee.”1 One way the TDCI does this is by investigating consumer complaints against insurance companies, agents, and agencies.
Continue Reading How to File a Complaint with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post describing how policyholders are unable to enforce insurance adjuster breaches in good faith for actions such as failing to acknowledge communications or failing to affirm or deny coverage within a reasonable time after a proof of loss.1 The post articulated that such enforcement ability resides solely with the insurance commissioner, pursuant to T.C.A. § 56-8-101(c).2 This restriction is quite vexing when policyholders call me asking for help after insurance adjusters behave badly, but I am unable to help them directly address their poor treatment.
Continue Reading Tennessee Bad Faith Claims: Is a Statutory Good Faith Breach Available for Tennessee Policyholders – Part II

Insurance carriers have a duty to act in good faith and not engage in unfair claims practices. The Tennessee legislature has promulgated this duty in T.C.A. § 56-8-105, which outlines 15 specific actions that constituted unfair claim practices that signify bad faith behavior.1 Such unfair claim practices include: (1) knowingly misrepresenting relevant facts or policy provisions relating to coverages at issue; (2) failing to acknowledge with reasonable promptness pertinent communications with respect to claims arising under its policies; (3) failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation and settlement of claims arising under its policies; and (4) failing to affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time after proof of loss statements have been completed.2 When a violation of this statue occurs, what can an insured do?
Continue Reading Tennessee Bad Faith Claims: Is a Statutory Good Faith Breach Available For Tennessee Policyholders?

According to ATTOM Data Solutions, a property database curator, Tennessee is currently tied for the highest overall vacancy rates for all residential properties for the first quarter of 2021.1 This number is sure to increase should the currently moratorium on evictions expire on March 31, 2021, as per the present CDC and Department of Health Order.2 However, landlords and policyholders should be aware that leaving their property vacant for too long can result in limitation in insurance coverage.
Continue Reading Insurance Vacancy Clause: Tennessee Property Coverage Limitation

Insurance policies represent an interesting subset of contract law that relies on common law and specific statutes, namely those contained in Title 56 of the Tennessee Code Annotated. Lawsuits asking a question concerning the extent of insurance coverage under a specific policy is a question of law requiring the interpretation of contractual language.1 In fact, Tennessee courts have long agreed that “insurance policies are, at their core, contracts.”2
Continue Reading Tennessee Court Interpretation of Insurance Contracts

Seven years ago, Merlin Law group attorney Shane Smith wrote a blog post on how insurance policies often shorten Tennessee’s statutory limitations.1 The statute of limitations as applied to contracts is stated in Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-109(a)(3) and limits the time in which an insured may bring suit against their insurance company to six years. Shane noted that Tennessee courts have held that shortening how soon a case must be brought before a court from six years to one year remains valid Tennessee law and enforceable under any Tennessee insurance policy. But what if this one-year limitation has expired? Is there anything an insured can do? Fortunately, there is!
Continue Reading Contractual Limitation Defense: Using Equitable Estoppel against Tennessee Insurance Policies

Note: This guest post is by Jamie Glass, a law clerk with Merlin Law Group in our Panama City office.

The local farmers’ market hosts an annual fruit salad competition. The rules of this completion require that only salads comprised completely of fruit may enter, specifically stating that “only apples, oranges, melons, grapes, cherries, and other fruits may be used.” A young, excited chef wishes to enter with her tomato and cucumber salad, but will she be able to? Using the ejusdem generis rule of construction, she can!
Continue Reading The Fruit Salad: Using Ejusdem Generis in Tennessee Insurance Policy Interpretation

Insurers often delay and deny payment even when a claimant is rightfully entitled to that money. As such, courts may award interest for the loss of the use of money that plaintiffs suffer. Interest that accrues prior to a judgment being entered is referred to as prejudgment interest.
Continue Reading Delayed and Denied Tennessee Insurance Claim Problems? Does Tennessee Award Prejudgment Interest?