A recent California case involving a claim for a loss to frozen embryos caught my attention.1 This is not a “run of the mill” type of loss. It is also a good case to remind policyholders that most homeowners policies are written on a named peril for personal property loss.   

Continue Reading Is Loss to Frozen Embryos Covered? A Case Study in Named Perils Coverage for Personal Property

Ed Eshoo is a master of the statutory standard fire insurance policy. When I am involved with a complex issue involving statutory policy language versus issued policy language, I collegially call my Chicago-based friend for his thoughts. Three years ago, in Insurance Agent Versus Experienced Policyholder Attorney Viewpoints About Insurance Coverage Denials, I wrote:

Continue Reading Michigan Appraisals and Standard Fire Policies

My parents, Bill and Alice Merlin, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary yesterday. I am very fortunate to have both of my parents alive at my age. The photo depicts my mother receiving a special kiss from my father and me at a party following the Newport to Bermuda race in 2018.

Continue Reading Jewelry Insurance and The Missing Wedding Band—Avoiding the Mysterious Disappearance Exclusion

We often take the Homeowners All Risks forms for granted. Historically, the “all risk” nature of a homeowners form was not developed until the middle of the 20th Century. A 1959 law review article, All Risks of Loss v. All Loss: An Examination of Broad Form Insurance Coverages, was written by insurance defense attorney, John Gorman. It discussed this new form of coverage which provided insurance for “all risks of physical loss.”
Continue Reading Did The Homeowners All Risk Insurance Policy Provide More Coverage in 1959 Than It Does Today?

In December of 2016, I wrote about Sebo v. American Home Assurance Company,1 where the Florida Supreme Court reversed the appellate court’s adoption of the “Proximate Efficient Cause” doctrine and found that instead, the lower court should have applied the “Concurrent Causation Doctrine,” as laid out in Wallach v. Rosenberg,2 in a situation where both the excluded cause of faulty construction, combined with the covered causes of rain and wind resulted in a total loss to Sebo’s property.
Continue Reading Court Rejects Jury Instruction Inconsistent with Concurrent Causation Doctrine; Remands for New Trial

At a recent insurance conference, I heard a discussion in passing between industry folks about the trend of trying to kill the name “all-risk insurance policy.” The basic conversation was that we should stop using the all-risk language and use the form names more because the insinuation has been made that the policies labeled as all-risk get the reputation of being considered unlimited coverage and all-encompassing coverage that should apply regardless of the circumstances.

Now, for the record, we know that policies of insurance are written by insurance companies and when you read a policy, whether it is a named-peril or an all-risk policy, pages of text are devoted to making sure policyholders are prohibited from confusing an insurance policy with a warranty. It does not take a insurance guru to understand that policies of insurance are filled with exclusions and limitations. How those exclusions and limitations apply matters and the right consideration needs to be given when a policy has language that states: “coverage for damage of direct physical loss is covered unless excluded” or “coverage exists against all risks of physical loss unless otherwise excluded or limited” or something similar. Many blog posts have been devoted to showing just how much is excluded and limited in our insurance policies. The stripping away of coverage that was once found in homeowners and business owner policies has been done by those who write the insurance policies.

Continue Reading Policy Interpretation Matters for Coverage Application and Court Reminds Insurance Company that it Wrote the Policy

Sudden and Accidental impacts that come in the form of cars, trucks, tractors, or other motorized vehicle are covered under structure or Coverage A insurance under most policies.
Often, we encounter with weather related perils, but for policyholders who have suffered a claim loss of property damage caused by a vehicle that runs off the highway there are many additional concerns that are not as common place in other losses.

Continue Reading All-Risk Coverage Includes Damage to Buildings Caused by Vehicles that Plow into Buildings

We have often discussed the importance of the type of insurance policy involved and the difference it makes from a coverage perspective. For example, the burden of proof is different between a named-peril policy and an all-risk policy. Knowing the difference is important, and knowing what your rights are under the policy you have purchased from your insurance carrier is imperative. So, if you have an all-risk policy, and you have an accidental loss that occurs during the policy period, do you have the burden as the policyholder to prove the exact cause of the loss?

Continue Reading With an All-Risk Policy, Does the Policyholder Have to Specify What the Covered Peril Is?

This Labor Day weekend, you probably had family parties and barbecues and weren’t thinking about insurance claims issues and insurance policies. Rightfully so as it is a time to rest and reflect on all the hard work we do to contribute to the success and prosperity of our nation. I don’t profess to be a theologian by any means, but I recently came across some interesting cases discussing "act of nature"/"act of God" exclusionary language found in insurance policies. It would also be interesting to hear from other insurance claims practitioners who have come across these phrases in policies and claims they have handled.

Continue Reading Is The “Act Of God” Or “Act of Nature” Defense Misplaced in First-Party Property All-Risk Policies?

Les Knox and I had an interesting discussion regarding all risk insurance and named perils coverage while debating a loss on the Jersey Shore. Les referred to the policy as an "open perils" policy, and I referred to it as an "all risk" policy. The personal property coverage was written on a "named perils" basis. The trend is to refer to the modern "all risk" policy as an "open perils" policy, but I think it is largely semantics.

Continue Reading Open Perils and Named Perils Coverage–What is the Difference?