Appellate Court Reverses Lower Court’s Dismissal of Plaintiffs Data-Breach Claim

In a win for third-party victims of a cyber security attack, the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia reversed a lower court’s decision dismissing a class-action suit against their health insurer for breach of contract, negligence, and violation of various state consumer-protection statutes, after their personal information was stolen during a data breach.1 Continue Reading

REMINDER – Professional Public Adjusters Association of New Jersey Meeting November 15, 2017!

Please join the Professional Public Adjusters Association of New Jersey (PPAANJ) at its Fall Meeting on November 15, 2017, at the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank, New Jersey. Continuing Education credits will be provided for New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania.

PPAANJ is pleased to announce that Mr. Joseph A. McDougal, Manager Licensing and Insurance Education, Consumer Protection Services, New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, will be a special guest speaker. Mr. McDougal will discuss continuing education for New Jersey public insurance adjusters and be open to questions from the membership. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet Mr. McDougal and discuss our continuing education requirements. Continue Reading

FEMA Relief for the Houses of Worship that Provide Hurricane Relief?

Hurricane Harvey brought unprecedented flooding and destruction to Texas. Three churches have sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seeking the ability to be awarded disaster relief grants available to other non-profit entities. In Harvest Family Church v. FEMA, three Texas churches damaged by Harvey are taking on a FEMA policy that does not allow them to receive FEMA money simply because they are religious houses of worship. Continue Reading

Napa Wine Country Wildfire Town Hall

The recent fires in Napa Valley and Sonoma, California present numerous issues for homeowners and business owners alike when it comes to navigating insurance claims. Questions arise as to what coverages are provided under a given insurance policy, how determinations on what is owed are made, what are the options on rebuilding, loss of income or extra expenses, coverage for damaged vines and wine, business interruption, and additional living expenses. This last topic was recently covered in a blog post by Denise Sze entitled, California Wildfires Bring the Need for Additional Living Expense Payments of Insurance Proceeds.

The issues facing wineries affected by the recent fires are complex. From coverage issues related to crop insurance, building damage, loss of business income, and loss of business personal property, Merlin Law Group and Levin Simes have teamed up and are offering a free Information Meeting on Monday, November 13, 2017 from 2:00-4:00p.m. at V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, California, to answer questions wineries may have regarding their insurance claims.

We will be joined by Anita Oberholster, Ph.D, who will be discussing the impact of the recent fires and smoke damage on grapes and wine qualities, and insurance brokers Blake Longo and Mike Applegate to discuss specific insurance issues. Russell Kranzler, CPA, will also address issues related to business interruption.

If you are a winery or business impacted by the recent fires, we invite you to attend.

What You Don’t Know About Ordinance or Law Coverage Can Hurt You!

Note: This guest blog post is by Brent Winans, Vice President of Clear Advantage Risk Management in Delray Beach, Florida ( He provides fee-based (no insurance sales) risk management consulting services to larger clients and serves as an expert witness on both sides of agent errors and omissions cases across the country.

Even if your building is insured for replacement cost, if you do not have Ordinance or Law coverage, you probably do not have the protection you think you have.

A standard replacement cost policy will pay to replace “new for old,” but only if the building codes (ordinances or laws) do not require a better “new” than you had before. For instance, if your building does not have hurricane shutters or hurricane windows and the new code requires them, your replacement cost policy will pay the cost for replacing your original windows but will not pay the increased cost for new hurricane windows or hurricane shutters. Continue Reading

Court Reaffirms on Contingency Fee Multipliers in Joyce v. Federated National

William and Judith Joyce filed a claim with their insurer, Federated National, after suffering water damage to their home. Instead of agreeing to cover the loss, Federated National denied the Joyces’ claim alleging they made material misrepresentations on their insurance application by failing to disclose prior losses they had with their previous carrier. Continue Reading

California Wildfires Bring the Need for Additional Living Expense Payments of Insurance Policy Proceeds

Last Thursday, October 26, 2017, I had the privilege to be on KSRO 1350 AM/103.5 FM, Sonoma County’s News Talk Radio Morning News, to discuss the wildfire aftermath as communities are looking to begin rebuilding their lives with their insurance proceeds. Continue Reading

Does the Standard Fire Policy Vacancy/Unoccupancy Condition Apply to a Fire Loss Occurring within Sixty Days of the Inception of Coverage?

I have handled many fire losses over the years involving vacant and/or unoccupied property.1 In some losses, the fire occurred within 60 days of the inception of coverage; but, the insured property had been vacant or unoccupied for more than 60 days prior to the effective date of coverage. Invariably, the insurers in those fire losses denied the claim, taking the position that vacancy/unoccupancy2 is measured from the inception of the vacancy/unoccupancy as opposed to the inception of coverage. Continue Reading

Small Business Manufacturers Should Purchase Equipment Breakdown Coverage

Chip Merlin, Ashley Harris and I settled an Equipment Breakdown Coverage (aka Mechanical Breakdown Coverage) lawsuit in New Jersey yesterday. Chip Merlin took this picture of Ashley and me after the settlement. While the settlement is confidential, there are a number of lessons to be learned and reasons why this coverage is so important to small business manufacturers. Continue Reading