One of the first questions I’m often asked by a client is, “What is the statute of limitations in XYZ state?” The Property Insurance Coverage Law Blog has not addressed the statute of limitations in North Carolina, and below is a quick cheat sheet for North Carolina policyholders and their representatives.
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The reasonable expectations doctrine could be outcome determinative in coverage disputes in the Tar Heel State. Two doctrines courts often consider when analyzing policy interpretation are the doctrines of (1) contra proferentem and (2) the insured’s “reasonable expectations.” North Carolina state courts embrace the doctrine of contra proferentem while its adoption of the reasonable expectations doctrine is more limited. The doctrine of contra proferentem is one of contract interpretation and construes any ambiguity in the contract against the party who drafted the contract. North Carolina state courts apply this principle in policy interpretation. Courts look to the plain meaning of the contract. Strict construction applies unless there is an ambiguity. In the property insurance context, North Carolina state courts use this rule to interpret policy terms liberally in favor of the policyholder and strictly against the insurance company since the insurance company chose the language in the policy.
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North Carolina was battered by Hurricane Florence last year and reports show very concerning issues of claims handling and low claim payments after the storm. Perhaps Hurricane Michael losses pulled adjusters out of North Carolina and for some insureds caused additional delays to their claims. North Carolina does have an option where you can advise the North Carolina Department of Insurance the details of your claim, but the system is not very user friendly—even the person answering the phone advised that the online version is hard to find on the website.
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The North Carolina Insurance Commissioner, Mike Causey, gets an A+ grade for his recent bulletin requiring greater investigation of otherwise hidden areas behind walls to ensure losses are being adjusted properly. This bulletin will certainly help victims of Hurricane Florence with hurricane claims.
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The widespread devastation of Hurricane Florence brought to a recent discussion the question of whether assignment of benefits contracts for property insurance proceeds are enforceable in North Carolina. This is a great question. In a general setting, vendors, services providers and contractors begin their work with a down payment and receive additional payments as work progresses, with many jurisdictions recognizing a contractor’s lien or service lien against the benefactor if they are not paid in full.
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Florence battered the Carolina Coast with 90mph winds when it made landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018. Florence downgraded to a tropical storm Friday evening and is now crawling across South Carolina at a drastically slow rate of approximately 5mph. The Carolinas are now facing the devastating effects of catastrophic storm surge, flash flooding, and prolonged river flooding. Some parts of North Carolina are already inundated with over thirty inches of rain.
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Hurricane Florence insurance claims are the headache that starts after Florence damages your business or home. There is nothing easy about having your property destroyed—either emotionally or financially. It is going to hurt. I and a number of Merlin Law Group lawyers have been doing this work full time for as long as anybody in the business. We have seen the emotional toll from hurricanes and the insurance claim process. We have seen the financial stress caused when dealing with insurance company payments that are not fast enough and simply not enough. We are here to help policyholders get over this hurt and frustration.
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