New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance John Francini

New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment and home of the world’s largest international hot air balloon festival, is the fifth largest state and has the lowest water to land ratio of all the states. It also experiences an average of seven to ten tornados a year. Most cause little property damage because they occur over uninhabited areas.1
Continue Reading

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asked the Washington State Supreme Court to resolve a conflict between two Washington state insurance law principles, namely, the conflict between (1) the rule that an insurance company is bound by representations made by its authorized agents, and (2) the rule that certificates of insurance cannot affect insurance coverage, at least not when the certificate states that it does not change the terms of the underlying insurance policy.
Continue Reading

Last month, California passed legislation that requires residential property insurers to take specific measures to review the estimated cost of rebuilding or repairing structures insured under residential property insurance policies. Assembly Bill 1797 added section 10103.4 to California’s Insurance Code. With certain, limited exceptions, under the new statute, residential property insurers must, at least biennially, at the time of renewal of a policy, offer to provide the insured an updated estimate of the cost to rebuild or replace the insured structures, or offer updated coverage limits based on an inflation factor that reflects the cost of construction in the policyholder’s geographic area.
Continue Reading

Under California Insurance Code section 1861.05(b), most property and casualty insurers seeking a rate change must submit an application that includes various financial information and “such other information as the commissioner may require,” including what the Department of Insurance describes as “underwriting rules.” “Underwriting rules” are “any rule or factor used by an insurer in the process of examining, accepting, or rejecting insurance risks, and classifying those risks selected in order to charge the proper premium for each.”1
Continue Reading

Last month, a New York Supreme Court affirmed that insurance companies are subject to that state’s consumer protection law, General Business Law § 349. In 37 West 24th Street, LLC v. Seneca Insurance Company, Inc., the trial court denied Seneca Insurance Company’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim under that statute.1
Continue Reading

Last month, a Washington State Court of Appeals ruled that individual insurance adjusters may be personally liable for violations of Washington’s bad faith statute, RCW 48.01.030. The court also ruled that adjusters may be personally liable for violations of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86.020.1
Continue Reading

A handful of bills regarding proposed statutes concerning assignment of property insurance benefits were withdrawn from both houses of the Florida legislature this month. Each of the proposed laws were directed toward assignments entered into by property owners in exchange for the agreement of the assignee — typically a contractor — to complete the associated repairs for which the insurance benefits have not yet been paid, in whole or in part, by the carrier.
Continue Reading

Answer: It depends, on several factors, such as:

  1. The applicable state law,
  2. the insurance company’s prior position, or positions (e.g., did it accept or deny coverage?),
  3. how it expressed that position, or positions (e.g., did it accept coverage under a reservation of rights, or did it deny coverage based on a specific ground and reserve its right to assert other grounds for denying coverage?),
  4. whether the policyholder detrimentally relied on the company’s prior coverage position,
  5. whether the policyholder has been prejudiced by the insurance company’s change in its coverage position or the stated basis for its position, and
  6. whether a lawsuit has been filed.
    Continue Reading

We’ve probably all heard the suggestion that the end of the year, or beginning of a new year, is a good time to review various aspects of our lives, including our financial security. Among such things to consider are our insurance policies and coverages. Such a review, however, is only as beneficial as the diligence with which it is performed. In that regard, we sometimes overlook the most basic considerations. In the area of insurance, that can be costly. For instance, while it’s a good practice to review the types and amounts of insurance coverages you have and need, when is the last time you checked the financial stability of your carrier, or even more basic, its compliance with insurance statutes and regulations?
Continue Reading