Last month, United Policyholders was kind enough to invite me to participate in one of the plethora of webinars/seminars/workshops it hosts, one of many free resources it offers for insurance consumers. The main topic of the presentation was homeowners’ personal property claims. This topic has a special place in my heart since my first exposure to the insurance industry was doing contents inventories with my father growing up. The webinar was a great opportunity to hear lingering questions from policyholders impacted by California wildfires in previous years.
Continue Reading Tips for Tackling Your Personal Property Claim

Many of us appreciate misdirection, deception, and technical play on words in brainteasers and riddles. The same is not usually the case when an insurer is explaining your legal rights following a devastating loss. While this blog showcases California claims, laws, and regulations, the principle for policyholders and policyholder advocates applies across the country – it pays to know your insurance claim rights.
Continue Reading Don’t Believe Everything You Read on the Internet – or Even in Your Claim Letter

Arbitration clauses primarily found in surplus lines policies with a choice of law provision generally selecting New York law and a shortened statute of limitations are a trap for unwary public adjusters and attorneys. A recent federal appellate court case upheld such a clause despite a state law making it illegal. The holding of the case suggests just how complicated of a legal issue this is:

This appeal presents an issue of first impression in this circuit that lies at the intersection of international, federal, and state law: whether the McCarran-Ferguson Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1011–15, allows a Washington statute to reverse-preempt the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, a multilateral treaty. We conclude that the relevant provision of the Convention is self-executing, and therefore not an “Act of Congress” subject to reverse-preemption by the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s order compelling arbitration.1


Continue Reading Public Adjusters Beware of Arbitration Clauses Changing State Law

Amy Bach is the Executive Director of United Policyholders. Last week, I had breakfast with her at the world-famous Sears Fine Food restaurant in San Francisco’s Union Square. We discussed a number of the projects United Policyholders is involved in, including the Covid Loss Recovery Initiative and Amicus Curiae Project. An “amicus curiae” brief is often called a “friend of the court” brief filed by a non-party to a lawsuit. This is part of what United Policyholders says about its ongoing Amicus Curiae Project:
Continue Reading United Policyholders Files An Amicus Brief Regarding Covid Lost Income Claims In Ohio Supreme Court

United Policyholders has sent a letter to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis calling on him to oppose the current pending legislation founds in SB 76 and HB 305. Here is part of the letter written by Amy Bach to Governor DeSantis:
Continue Reading United Policyholders Calls on Governor DeSantis to Oppose Harmful Bills to Florida’s Policyholders

Since 1991, United Policyholders has been a voice for policyholders and an organization that has taken action in legislative, judicial, and consumer venues to assist policyholders and promote policyholders’ best interests. One example is their Amicus Project. They have written appellate briefs in 42 states and in more than 450 cases. United Policyholders briefs have been cited by numerous state supreme courts and the United States Supreme Court. Last week, United Policyholders filed an amicus brief in the Mama Jo’s case. The case and the Petition for review to the United States Supreme Court was recently discussed by Iris Kuhn in, Restaurant Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Appeal of Eleventh Circuit’s Ruling on “Direct Physical Loss.”
Continue Reading United Policyholders Notes How the Mama Jo’s Case Was Wrongly Decided and Now Harming Proper Legal Analysis of Business Interruption Coverage Cases

This year, United Policyholders celebrates a tremendous milestone – 30 years of successfully providing information to and advocating on behalf of policyholders nationwide.

In their own words:

United Policyholders (UP) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to be a trustworthy and useful information resource and an effective voice for consumers of all types of insurance in all 50 states.


Continue Reading United Policyholders: A Brief Look Back at the Past 30 years

One of the most painful decisions I have to make as an attorney in private practice is turning away potential clients because the cost of litigation dwarfs the value of their claim. I am certain that the public adjusters I know experience the same pain. But it is inevitable in the private sector, at least in states that lack consumer-friendly automatic attorney-fee laws, like California, where I practice. But no matter where you are, the number of mistreated policyholders vastly exceeds the caseload capacity of capable bad faith attorneys and public adjusters. I try to at least offer helpful tips to those I can’t formally represent, but I know that is often not enough.
Continue Reading Just Because You Can’t Get a Lawyer or Public Adjuster Does Not Mean You Are Out of Options

The term “replacement cost policy” is a misrepresentation by many insurance companies about the product they are now selling. Insurance regulators should not allow the general public to be duped into buying something which is obviously not what the insurance company is promising. Accordingly, I propose that we should consider that unless minimum standards within a policy are met, insurance companies selling any all-risk replacement insurance are required and must warn that they are selling a Non-Standard Non-Replacement Cost Policy. Insurance products that are deemed to be Replacement Cost Policies in the residential market should at least meet the criteria found in mortgage requirements for federal negotiable mortgages.
Continue Reading Homeowners Insurance Policies Differ—The Need For A Standard vs. Non-Standard Replacement Cost Policy Designation

Matching of damaged parts of a building is nothing new. This “Give Me Your Walls” episode from the classic Dick Van Dyke Show demonstrates a typical concern most property owners have about the aesthetics of matching property:

Some insurance companies are now selling “swiss cheese” and “cheap” insurance because they specifically say they will