Justia Insurance Law Opinion Summaries

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Progressive Direct Insurance Company ("Progressive") appealed a circuit court order granting a motion for a partial summary judgment filed by Madison Keen and joined by Robert Creller and Alfa Mutual Insurance Company ("Alfa"); the trial court certified its order as final pursuant to Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P. In September 2019, Keen was involved in a motor-vehicle accident. She sought compensation from Creller, who was the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident. The vehicle Creller was driving was owned by his parents and was insured by Alfa. The evidence suggested that Creller and his spouse were living with Creller's parents at the time of the accident. Alfa paid Keen the limits of the insurance policy, and Keen executed a settlement agreement and a release in favor of Creller and Alfa. In June 2021, Keen filed the lawsuit at issue here seeking underinsured-motorist benefits from two different policies, namely, a policy issued by Progressive covering the vehicle Keen was driving at the time of the accident and a policy issued by State Farm Automobile Insurance Company ("State Farm") covering a second vehicle in Keen's household. Because Keen was driving the vehicle insured by Progressive at the time of the accident, her Progressive underinsured-motorist coverage was the primary insurance and the State Farm underinsured-motorist coverage was the secondary insurance. During the litigation, Creller was deposed and revealed the existence of an additional insurance policy covering his spouse's vehicle, which had been issued by Allstate Insurance Company ("Allstate") and which identified Creller as a named insured. The discovery of the Allstate policy raised the possibility that Creller might have had additional liability insurance coverage that could have compensated Keen for her injuries. Based on the alleged existence of additional insurance benefits, she asserted that there had been a mutual mistake among the parties to the settlement agreement and the release. Keen eventually moved for partial summary judgment, arguing the Allstate policy did not provide coverage. For its part, Progressive opposed Keen's motion, because the availability of benefits under the Allstate policy might affect Progressive's interests with respect to Keen's underinsured- motorist claim. The trial court granted Keen's motion and certified its order as final pursuant to Rule 54(b). Progressive appealed. Because it appeared there was a question of fact based on the evidence before the trial court existed when it entered the partial summary judgment, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed that judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Progressive Direct Ins. Co. v. Keen, et al." on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned a particular rate known as a “base rate,” which State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund) used to calculate premiums for its insureds. California Insurance Code section 11664(e)(6)(A) stated: “[i]f the premium rate in the governing classification for the insured is to be increased 25 percent or greater and the insurer intends to renew the policy, the insurer shall provide a written notice of a renewal offer not less than 30 days prior to the policy renewal date.” In a matter of first impression, the Court of Appeal found State Fund was not obligated to provide notice to cross-complainant Cover Right Roofing (Cover Right) under this statute. The increase at issue was not due to any change in the premium rate of Cover Right’s governing classification. Rather, a third party changed the applicable governing classification criteria, which caused Cover Right to be assigned a new governing classification with a higher premium rate. The statute did not require notice in such circumstances. Thus, the Court found the trial court correctly granted State Fund’s motion for summary judgment and affirm the judgment. View "Cover Right Roofing, Inc. v. State Compensation Ins. Fund" on Justia Law

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Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part three orders issued by two separate judges presiding over two separate but related cases in the circuit court, holding that remand was required.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying Praetorian Insurance Company's motion to intervene in Plaintiff's wrongful death action against its insured, Air Cargo Carriers, LLC for lack of standing to assert Air Cargo's right to workers' compensation immunity; (2) erred in denying Praetorian's motion for summary judgment as to count one of its declaratory judgment complaint; and (3) correctly dismissed count two of Praetorian's declaratory judgment complaint on the grounds that Praetorian lacked standing. View "Praetorian Insurance Co. v. Chau" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit concerning the amount of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage, if any, that Insurer must provide to a non-employee permissive user of an insured vehicle who caused personal injuries to an employee of a named insured under a standard commercial automobile insurance policy.The Fourth Circuit determined that an employee indemnification and employer's liability's exclusion in the policy at issue was void and unenforceable under the mandatory omnibus requirements of W. Va. Code 33-6-31(a). The Supreme Court answered (1) the void exclusion may not be invoked to limit the amount of coverage available to a permissive user of a vehicle insured by Insurer's policy; and (2) Insurer must afford the permissive user with liability coverage up to the full limits available under the insurance policy for any proven damages. View "Ball v. United Financial Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Company's decision to rescind an insurance policy purchased for a derelict house Homeowner intended to remodel, holding that questions of material fact existed precluding summary judgment.After a fire occurred, damaging the house and some of its contents, Allstate announced that it was rescinding the homeowners' insurance policy issued to Homeowner, asserting that Homeowner digitally signed an application in which he falsely answered a request as to whether he would occupy the house within thirty days. Plaintiffs, including Homeowner, sued Allstate for breach of contract and unfair trade practices. The circuit court granted Allstate's motion to rescind the policy, concluding that there was no factual dispute that Homeowner had made false statements on his insurance application. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that questions of material fact existed regarding whether Plaintiff's answer to Allstate's thirty-day-occupancy question was false and whether the question was material to Allstate's issuance of the policy. View "McDowell v. Allstate Vehicle & Property Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the language in the insurance policy at issue in this case provided liability coverage for right-of-seclusion violations litigated under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227, assuming such coverage is consistent with the insured's reasonable expectations.Privacy injuries involving the right of seclusion are sometimes actionable under the TCPA provided that the violation involves the use of telephonic equipment. The insurance policy in this case provided liability coverage for injuries "arising out of...[o]ral or written publication...of material that violates a person's right of privacy." At issue before the Supreme Court was whether this language provided liability coverage for right-of-seclusion violations brought under the TCPA. The Court held that a commercial general liability insurance policy that provides coverage for "personal injury" defined in part as injury arising out of oral or written publication of material that violates a person's right of privacy can cover liability for violations of the right of seclusion if that coverage is consistent with the insured's reasonable expectations. View "Yahoo Inc. v. National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, PA" on Justia Law

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After Defendant’s Arkansas home burned to the ground, her insurer, Hiscox Dedicated Corporate Member Limited (a "capital provider" to an underwriting syndicate doing business within the Lloyd's of London insurance marketplace), declined to pay her for her loss and instead rescinded the insurance policy because she had made material misrepresentations in her insurance application. Hiscox then sued Defendant in federal court, seeking a declaratory judgment that it had properly rescinded the policy and had no obligation to Defendant. The district court agreed with Hiscox and granted it summary judgment.   The relevant question is whether Defendant "had a foreclosure, repossession, bankruptcy or filed for bankruptcy during the past five (5) years." Defendant maintains that the district court erred in concluding that the phrase "had a foreclosure" meant the initiation of foreclosure proceedings.   The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded. The court agreed with Defendant that the question is ambiguous. Under Arkansas law, the court read the question in its "plain, ordinary, and popular sense," as "the common usage of terms should prevail". Further, the court wrote it sees no indication in any case that the parties meant to adopt Arkansas statutes as the standard to determine the meaning of the words in the application question. View "Hiscox Dedicated Corp Member v. Suzan Taylor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Keene Auto Body, Inc. appealed a circuit court order that dismissed its complaint against defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. Keene Auto Body, acting as an assignee of Caleb Meagher, who insured his vehicle through State Farm, sued State Farm for breach of contract for failing to cover the full cost of repairs to the insured’s vehicle. State Farm moved to dismiss the suit on grounds that, because of an anti-assignment clause in the insured’s policy, the insured’s assignment of his breach of contract claim to Keene Auto Body was not valid, and that, even if it was, Keene Auto Body did not sufficiently state a claim for breach of contract. The trial court granted the motion. The New Hampshire Supreme Court found the anti-assignment clause at issue here was ambiguous, and construed it against the insurer. Therefore, the clause did not prohibit the insured from assigning his post-loss claim to Keene Auto Body. Given this holding, the Supreme Court determined Keene Auto Body's factual allegations were sufficient to survive State Farm's motion to dismiss. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Keene Auto Body, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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In this dispute between an Insurer and pension holders, the Second Circuit granted in part and denied in part Insurer's motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs did not timely appeal from the district court’s orders addressing the methodology for computing individual relief, so the court lacked jurisdiction over that portion of Plaintiffs’ appeal. However, the court found that it had jurisdiction over the portion of Plaintiffs’ appeal challenging the district court’s order denying sanctions. Considering that order on the merits, the court concluded that it was not an abuse of discretion and affirmed. View "Amara v. Cigna Corporation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a civil suit against an insurer based on allegations that the insurer negligently advised them that they did not need to purchase a builder's risk policy for a hotel project. The district court granted the insurer's motion for summary judgment, finding that the insurer had no duty to give advice about different coverages or to ensure that adequate coverage existed and that plaintiffs failed to show the existence of a special relationship between the agent and the insureds that would give rise to additional duties on the agent's part to ensure the insured had adequate coverage.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, finding that the trial court did not err in its resolution of the motion for summary judgment. View "I Square Management, LLC v. McGriff Insurance Services, Inc." on Justia Law