California Insurers Are Violating Replacement Cost Estimate Laws

Many policyholders do not have enough insurance to replace their buildings or homes after a total loss. Often these policyholders were assured by their agents or insurance companies at the point of sale that their limits were sufficient. And many times these assurances were based on estimates that fell below the minimum standards set by law. Continue Reading

Hurricane Michael Claims Deserve Continued Attention By Florida Insurance Regulators

From left to right, JL Evans, Donice Krueger, Chip Merlin, Ron Delo, James and Rene Howard

Hurricane Michael insurance claims continue to take up a lot of time with Merlin Law Group attorneys. The photograph above is from dinner last night in Panama City, Florida, where the issues and problems of getting insurance claims resolved fully were the hot topic of discussion. Hurricane Michael has a lot of slow and low paying claims where insurers are wrongfully reporting to the Office of Insurance Regulation that the claim is administratively “closed” when it is anything other than being over from the policyholder’s view. Continue Reading

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Weighs In On “Matching”

Last year in one of my blogposts, I wrote about Windridge of Naperville Condominium Association v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company,1 and the issue whether appraisal is appropriate to resolve a dispute over the cost of repairing physically undamaged siding of townhome buildings to remedy a mismatch with repaired damaged siding. There, a federal district court in Illinois denied the Association’s motion to compel appraisal on the “matching” issue, reasoning it was a question of coverage, not loss amount, and thus inappropriate for appraisal. This coverage issue was subsequently resolved in favor of the Association, the district court concluding that Philadelphia must replace or pay to replace the siding on all four of the townhome buildings’ elevations if no siding is available that matches the undamaged siding on the north and east elevations, as claimed by the Association.2 Continue Reading

Pretrial Motion Practice in Federal Court

Image by Nick Youngson

This blog post will describe the difference between pre-trial case dispositive motions and motions that impact the admissibility of evidence at trial. I recounted in a previous post that (1) motions to dismiss and (2) motions for summary judgment are case dispositive motions. That means that if either party ultimately wins the motion, the claim or a portion of the claim is definitively won by the moving party unless the court grants leave to fix the identified issue. Motions in limine and Daubert motions, however, concern what evidence is admissible at trial. Continue Reading

Insurance Agents Play An Important Role In Everyday Life

Brent Winans, Jessica Kirkwood-Alley, David Thompson, and Chip Merlin

David Thompson of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA) is a premier insurance agent educator who spends most of his time on the road teaching insurance agents how to ply their trade. This morning, I was on a panel moderated by Thompson, with insurance agent defense attorney Jessica Kirkwood-Alley and insurance expert Brent Winans. The topic was how insurance agents can avoid errors and omissions claims. Continue Reading

Reasonableness of Notice…Is it Fact Specific?

Policy language varies when it comes to how and when an insured is required to give notice of a claim. Some policies have a definitive time frame setting forth when notice must be given, but others use terms such as “prompt,” “immediate” or “as soon as practicable.” When the policy does not provide a definitive timeframe, the question of whether an insured’s notice complied with the policy’s notice requirement can be questioned. In such situations, courts will look to various factors to determine whether the insured’s notice was “reasonable.” Continue Reading

California’s Insurance Adjuster Act of 2019 Is Coming

California’s Senate Bill 2401 is making its way through the legislature and will hopefully bring some important changes to the way insurance companies train their out of state adjusters who handle California based policyholder’s claims. The bill, also known as the Insurance Adjuster Act of 2019, was created by Senator Bill Dodd to eliminate confusion and delays caused by out-of-state or unaware adjusters. Continue Reading

Hurricane Michael Claims Data Update: Part II

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation recently released updated data on July 26, 2019, from Hurricane Michael.1 A review of the available data shows the damage for the Florida panhandle. Since my prior blog post, the damage in the Florida panhandle from Michael has continued to grow. Over one hundred and forty-eight thousand claims have been filed (148,347) totaling estimated insured losses at almost seven billion dollars ($6,906,918,311). These numbers come from the insurers directly reporting to the FOIR. Continue Reading

The Policyholder’s Public Adjuster Cannot Be the Policyholder’s Appraiser

The Florida Third District Court of Appeals recently held that the policyholder’s public adjuster cannot be the policyholder’s appraiser.1 This decision will have a major impact on appraisals because many public adjusters act as their own appraisers. It should be assumed that the insurance company’s adjusters cannot act as appraisers as well. The decision should be reviewed by all public adjusters, appraisers and umpires that handle appraisals. Continue Reading

Thoughts On Badger vs Merlin and Other Topics Of Appraisal At The IAUA

Steve Patrick

Appraisal was the topic of conversation between Steve Badger and me at the Denver IAUA conference. Colorado appraisals have been a matter of much litigation and controversy in Colorado. For some reason, appraisal law has been in great flux and controversy in Colorado versus the vast majority of states where appraisals seem to go along just fine, and claims go away. The recent Colorado Supreme Court case was blogged about in Appraisal and the Impartiality of Appraisers. Continue Reading

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