Legal Blog

Recent Developments in Property Insurance Coverage Litigation

The standard fire policy, which is the pre-cursor of modern property insurance, has been around for more than one hundred years, and yet we are still litigating many of the same issues. The same holds true in this survey period. Although we are more than seven-years past Superstorm Sandy, related cases are still being decided in the appellate courts. These cases will have an impact on the upcoming Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria cases now in litigation. Other issues experiencing renewed popularity include matching and whether labor can be depreciated when calculating actual cash value.

HURRICANES AND FLOODS

In Migliaro v. Fidelity. National Indemnity Insurance Co., the court held that an insurer’s rejection of a proof of loss under a Standard Flood Insurance Recent Developments in Property Insurance Coverage Litigation 445 Program (“SFIP”) policy is not a per se denial of the claim, but it is a denial if the policyholder treats it as such and files suit against the insurer. Migliaro’s property was damaged in Sandy. After receiving payment for his initial claim, Migliaro submitted a proof of loss for additional damages. Fidelity sent a letter titled “Rejection of Proof of Loss.” The SFIP has a one-year statute of limitations, and insureds may not file suit under the SFIP until a claim has been denied in writing. The court held that, “[b]ecause a policyholder cannot bring suit until his claim has been denied in writing, Migliaro must have accepted that this had occurred when he brought suit” and “by bringing suit, Migliaro acknowledged that the letter constituted a written denial of his claim.”

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©2020. Published in Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Vol. 55, No. 2, Spring 2020, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

 

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