In 2019, Merlin Law Group’s California offices received calls almost daily from insureds who were “dropped” by their homeowners insurance company (i.e., non-renewed). The reason insurers are providing? Unsurprisingly: increasing risks of wildfires. In November 2019, Ricardo Lara, the California Insurance Commissioner, exercised his powers to place a one-year moratorium on cancelling insurance policies related to wildfire risk. Earlier in the month, Lara ordered the FAIR Plan—a quasi-governmental insurer-of-last-resort for people who can’t get insurance elsewhere—to sell the same kind of policies for which Californians once had no problem qualifying.1
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Many Policyholders in Puerto Rico are concerned about the notifications of non-renewal or cancellations they received after Hurricane Maria claims. This is a matter that affects both residential and commercial Policyholders. The process of obtaining insurance coverage from a different insurance company can be even more difficult when repairs related to a prior claim have not been completed.
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After Hurricane Michael, on October 15, 2018, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier issued an Emergency Order No. 234790-18-EO, that affected insurers writing insurance in the following counties affected by Hurricane Michael: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington Counties.
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In August, I wrote a blog post about an insurer who had violated section 143.17a(a) of the Illinois Insurance Code by failing to provide adequate notice of their intention to non-renew a policy. As a result of its failure to timely provide notice of the intent to non-renew, the insurer was required to renew the expiring policy under the same terms and conditions for an additional year. Two days after issuing the renewal policy, the insurer issued a Notice of Cancellation citing the reason for the cancellation as “Underwriting Reasons: Measurable increase in risk.” This notice provided more than 60 days’ notice.
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All too often following a loss, insureds are a faced with another shock when they open their mail and find a notification that the insurance company is not renewing their policy at the end of their existing policy term. Recently my colleague Edward Eshoo and I represented a policyholder facing this very situation. The insured was already fighting the insurance company for benefits under the policy and now in the midst of a loss was being told that at the end of the current policy period the insurance company would not be renewing the policy. While insurance companies have the right to non-renew or cancel coverage, there are strict requirements governing when how and when they may do so.


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One of the biggest complaints I hear from homeowners after suffering a property insurance loss emerges out of the insurer’s “cancellation” or failure to renew the policy after the loss occurs. After suffering a loss, the thought of trying to get new insurance while the loss has not been completely resolved is a devastating and stressful blow to an insured. Purchasing new insurance while a loss has not been fully remediated and repaired is expensive and difficult.


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Late last June, a stream of lava flow from the Kilauea volcano began to flow on Hawaii’s Big Island. By late October, the lava was threatening to destroy homes. Now residents of the Big Island are fighting back and asking for the State of Hawaii’s help because their homeowners insurance coverage has been canceled. The reason listed: the Puna Lava flow.

The lava flow near Pahoa on Hawaii, seen on November 2, 2014, as it approaches the town

The lava flow near Pahoa on Hawaii, seen on November 2, 2014 as it approaches the town.


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