Vacant Property Coverage

In the last two weeks, Puerto Rico has experienced earthquakes that have caused significant damage to homes and buildings, especially in the southwest area of the island closest to the earthquake epicenters. Many of these properties have collapsed and others are under dangerous conditions. The government has asked the people to abandon homes that are not safe, and the Governor declared a State of Emergency due to the seismic activity continues in Puerto Rico.
Continue Reading Can My Insurance Company Deny Coverage If I Vacate My House After an Earthquake?

In a recent case,1 a federal appeals court addressed the issue of whether fire damage to a vacant dwelling from an arsonist was considered distinct from vandalism, so as to not implicate an exclusion within a homeowners insurance policy. In that case, Wells Fargo Bank owned an insurance policy on an abandoned house that an arsonist set ablaze. The insured sued its insurer after the insurer refused to indemnify the insured for the loss, relying on a policy provision exclusion for damage caused by “vandalism or malicious mischief” after the property had been vacant for more than thirty consecutive days.
Continue Reading Arson of Vacant House: Covered Fire Loss or Excluded Vandalism?

The typical vacancy provision in a homeowners property insurance policy is patterned after the Insurance Services Office (ISO) Homeowners 3-Special Form (HO-3 form)1 and excludes coverage for damage caused by vandalism if the dwelling has been vacant for more than 60 consecutive days before the damage occurs.2
Continue Reading What Constitutes a Dwelling or Building Under Construction or Renovation For Purposes of a Vacancy Exclusion?

Last November in my blogpost, Does the Standard Fire Policy Vacancy/Unoccupancy Condition Apply to a Fire Loss Occurring within Sixty Days of the Inception of Coverage, I discussed how courts have measured vacancy/unoccupancy when a loss occurs within sixty days of the inception of coverage; but, the insured property had been vacant or unoccupied for more than sixty days prior to the effective date of coverage.
Continue Reading The Standard Fire Policy 60-Day Vacancy/Unoccupancy Condition

I have handled many fire losses over the years involving vacant and/or unoccupied property.1 In some losses, the fire occurred within 60 days of the inception of coverage; but, the insured property had been vacant or unoccupied for more than 60 days prior to the effective date of coverage. Invariably, the insurers in those fire losses denied the claim, taking the position that vacancy/unoccupancy2 is measured from the inception of the vacancy/unoccupancy as opposed to the inception of coverage.
Continue Reading Does the Standard Fire Policy Vacancy/Unoccupancy Condition Apply to a Fire Loss Occurring within Sixty Days of the Inception of Coverage?

The Appellate Court in New York recently reversed the trial court’s finding in favor of the insured which had concluded the vandalism exclusion did not apply to the loss.1 The insured owned certain real property which it was renovating and using as rental property. It was admitted the property had been vacant and unoccupied for six months before a fire substantially damaged it. The insureds filed a claim under their Landlords Package Policy, which was denied by Allstate.
Continue Reading Does an Insurer Have the Right to Raise a Defense in Litigation If Not a Basis For Its Denial?

Going way back to the roots of insurance, fire was the peril that insurance was designed to protect. Fire damage and smoke are incredibly damaging and cause many injuries and fatalities. While our suppression efforts have a come a long way, there is still a long way for us to go with fire insurance claims being properly paid across the board.


Continue Reading Fire Claim Was Not Mischief but Other Courts Disagree