The Western District of Pennsylvania recently had to answer the question of whether a raccoon’s actions in destroying a property can be considered vandalism or malicious mischief under an insurance policy. The trial court found that “raccoons and their companions in the animal kingdom cannot formulate the intent needed to engage in vandalism, malicious mischief, or any other criminal or actionable conduct.”1
Continue Reading

Merlin Law Group previously blogged about Konrad Kurach v. Truck Insurance Exchange,1 where an appeal was recently filed at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on this question:

Did the Superior Court err as a matter of law in finding that the limitation of payment of General Contractors Overhead and Profit from actual cash value in a replacement cost policy, although violative of binding precedent, was nonetheless valid and enforceable?
Continue Reading

Every state has laws that prohibit unfair, discriminatory, or deceptive insurance practices. These regulations are normally encompassed as statutes or regulations enacted to protect insurance consumers. Pennsylvania has a statute enacted called the “Unfair Insurance Practices Act,”1 This law gives the consumer the right to file complaints against their insurance company to be investigated by the Insurance Department. However, this statute specifically prohibits a private cause of action against insurance companies by the public.
Continue Reading

Not sure when to sue your insurer? Property insurance policies typically contain a contractual suit limitation provision that sets the time within which policyholders may file suit on the claim. Some states allow the insurer to require in the policy that the policyholder file suit in as little as one year from the date of loss or lose coverage entirely, compared to 4- or 6-year statutes of limitations within which suit can be filed under other types of contracts.
Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman

The last thing an insured should do with regards to a homeowners insurance claim is to sit back and wait for the insurance company to do the right thing. There are many ways in which an insured can combat a delaying, denying, and bad treating insurance company with the most obvious being retaining a public adjuster. However, another way an insured can push the insurance carrier is to file an Insurance Complaint with the State’s Department of Insurance.
Continue Reading

In a previous post, Insurance Company Acting in Bad Faith? Pennsylvania Protects Policyholders if Facts Are Plead, I discussed the importance of Pennsylvania’s insurance bad faith statute1 and how insurers routinely attempt to avoid litigating the substance of those bad faith claims by filing motions to dismiss alleging pleading deficiencies. Recently, the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania rejected an insurance company’s argument that an insured could not make a bad faith claim because, although low, its damages estimate was reasonable because it was based on inspections of the property…its own self-serving inspections.
Continue Reading

Policyholders need insurance laws which protect them if their insurance company delays, denies or wrongfully adjusts their claim. Attorneys have long recognized that insurance law is a specialized niche area of the law with strange nuances. Attorneys not dedicated to this field of law may fail to appreciate or may even miss small but important details when representing a client with Insurance problems. A case in Pennsylvania is a case in point.
Continue Reading

Join Robert Trautmann and myself, on February 16, 2018, at 2:00 pm for a free one-hour webinar to discuss the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s recent decision in Rancosky v. Washington National Insurance Company,1 which upheld the current bad faith standards and specifically noted that an insured need not prove malicious intent to prevail

Sometimes when researching one issue, a case will pop up that isn’t what we were looking for, but nonetheless is worthy of note. While I was trying to help a public adjuster with some case law research the other day, I came across this gem out of Pennsylvania. Back in 1991 the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that an insurer’s “policy provision which limited the insurer’s liability to actual case values of property unless replacement has been made was void as unconscionable.”1
Continue Reading