Ashley Harris

The Iowa Supreme Court determined that “appraisers may determine the factual cause of damage to insured property to ascertain the amount of loss,” in Walnut Creek Townhome Association vs Depositors Insurance Company.1 I am proud that Ashley Smith (nka Ashley Harris) was cited by the court for her analysis of the issue.
Continue Reading Ashley Harris Cited by Iowa Supreme Court Regarding Causation Issues in Appraisal Proceedings

Plaintiffs owned a home in Arizona insured by Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company.1 The “Wallow Fire” occurred near the property and consumed the plaintiffs’ detached garage. It also burned the vegetation on a nearby hill. A month after the fire was contained, a mudslide on the hill destroyed the house.

Continue Reading Court Applies Broad Interpretation of “Direct” Causation

While the appraisal procedure is commonly used in property insurance claims, the proper scope of appraisal is often contested. Courts across the country generally agree that coverage determinations are reserved only to the courts. However, courts are divided on whether determinations of causation should be considered by the appraisal process.
Continue Reading The Scope of Appraisal: Does It Include Causation?

"There’s a great deal of suffering in the world, Sir. We ought to do our part toward relieving it."1

New Jersey policyholders who have not been fully paid their insurance benefits following losses from Hurricane Sandy should have some optimism and hope this Christmas Eve. Their reasonable expectations of insurance coverage and benefits are solidly backed by New Jersey insurance law. Insurance company claims departments are required to fulfill their promise of relieving a great deal of suffering caused by Hurricane Sandy by fully and promptly paying insurance benefits purchased before Hurricane Sandy struck.

Continue Reading Reasonable Expectations – Why New Jersey Policyholders Should Have a Thankful Christmas Day

Every policyholder’s first question after a loss is: does my insurance policy cover this? Some policyholders have a named peril policy insuring against certain risks that are enumerated within the policy itself. Others have an all-risk policy that insures against every peril that is not specifically excluded under the terms of the policy. Regardless of which policy you currently hold, the first step in determining whether coverage exists is determining the cause and origin of the damages.

Continue Reading Does my insurance Policy cover this? Understanding The Proximate Causation Doctrine-Part 1

The law of comparative causation under property insurance policies is reasonably settled in Texas. If there is a loss as a result of two concurring perils, one insured and one not, the loss is covered only to the extent it can be traced to the covered peril. However, what happens when a peril which is not covered is caused by a peril which is covered? As the Plaintiffs learned in National Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA v. Valero Energy Corp., 777 S.W.2d 501 (Tex.App.—Corpus Christi 1989, writ denied), there is still no coverage unless the terms of the policy allow coverage where an otherwise excluded peril is itself caused by a covered peril.

Continue Reading Concurrent Causation in Texas

While writing last week’s post, Texas Windstorm Insurer Settles 2,400 Hurricane Ike Slab Claims, I almost quoted Texas attorney Steve Mostyn, who explained that Texas law really left no other rational choice. Burdens of proof are crucial when it comes to close cases, and Texas places a unique and difficult coverage burden on policyholders. An article in the Houston Chronicle titled Windstorm Insurer to Settle Some Ike Cases quoted Mostyn:

Continue Reading Texas Insurance Causation Doctrine “Is What It Is” And It Needs to Be Changed