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?

I have written before on how Tennessee Courts interpret an insurance contract, stating that Tennessee courts have long agreed that “insurance policies are, at their core, contracts.”1 Usually one of the first questions asked regarding an insurance policy is what is covered under this contract? Is the fence covered under other structures? Is this computer personal or business property? The ‘what’ is very significant. But asking who is covered under these insurance contracts can be equally significant.
Continue Reading Terms of a Policy: Knowing Who is Insured

Effective May 1st, 2021, Florida courts will begin utilizing a different standard in evaluating motions for summary judgment. The Florida Supreme Court, acting on its own motion, has amended the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure to adopt the federal summary judgment standard, which “is expected to make it easier for judges to grant summary judgment motions.”1 Summary Judgment is a pre-trial judgment brought by motion that dispositively determines the resolution of a case.2
Continue Reading Florida Motion for Summary Judgment Standard Update

When a hurricane makes landfall, it is national news due to the devastation caused. Billions of dollars of damage, and thousands of people become homeless and without a job. Most everyone in the country has seen the pictures, if only for the shock value. As Floridians, most of us have lived this devastation in some shape or form. For policyholders, we know that the storm is only the beginning of the ordeal.
Continue Reading Florida Senate Bill 76 and House Bill 305 Would Harm Policyholders and Encourage Improper Claims Handling by Insurers

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

Recently I was at a site inspection centered on business personal property. Items were skewed about in piles, where they had been placed in the aftermath of a storm. The building was damaged, as well as the contents inside of it. Upon review of the item catalogue, I remarked that such is akin to a scavenger hunt, where children hunt for items on a list and take a picture as proof of its existence. To which opposing counsel replied that this exercise of reviewing the catalogue was better simply because each proof of existence resulted in a monetary reward. He was right.
Continue Reading Business Personal Property Claim: The Scavenger Hunt

Governmental insurance pools or quasi-governmental entities offering insurance are often treated differently than typical private insurance companies. Since many of these insurance entities are set up to provide insurance to other governmental entities, especially municipalities and local school districts, it is important to recognize that state laws often treat these entities different than private insurers.
Continue Reading Municipal and Local Government Insurance Claims With Governmental Insurance Pools Are Different

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