Hurricane Ian is rapidly approaching the west coast of Florida and is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near the Tampa area within the coming days. While the exact track is still being determined, there is a chance the storm may also impact insureds in Georgia and South Carolina. Now is the
California Holds Stolen Cryptocurrency Does Not Qualify as “Physical” Loss Under Homeowners’ Policy
From IRS rulings that “virtual currency” is taxed as “property” to an SEC lawsuit claiming that digital assets are “securities” under federal law, meteoric growth of the largely unregulated crypto industry has raised numerous questions about whether crypto-related risks are covered by insurance. In the latest example of the intersection of crypto and insurance, a California federal court recently held that cryptocurrency stolen from a Coinbase account did not constitute a covered loss under a homeowner’s insurance policy. The fundamental issue was whether the stolen crypto met the policy’s requirement for “direct physical loss to property” and, more specifically, whether the losses were “physical” in nature. The court ruled against coverage, reasoning that lost control of cryptocurrency is not a direct physical loss as a matter of California law.
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Dogs And Insurance, These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Things (Pictures Included!)
Earlier this year, New York passed a law addressing dogs and homeowners’ insurance. Some insurers selling homeowners’ insurance policies will decide whether and how to issue coverage based on the type of dog residing with the homeowners. For example, these kinds of dogs may result in lower premiums or more favorable terms than other dogs:…
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Georgia Court of Appeals Upholds Denial of Coverage Because Insurance Broker Lacked Agency to Accept Premium Payment
In American Reliable Insurance Company v. Lancaster, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a property insurer’s summary judgment motion concerning the insurer’s denial of a fire loss claim. The basis of the denial was that the policyholders had failed to pay the policy premium. The policyholders, Charlie and Wanda Lancaster, claimed that they had paid their policy premiums for several years to their insurance agent, Macie Yawn. In October 2014, American Reliable mailed a renewal notice to the Lancasters notifying them that premium payments had to be made directly to the insurer. After it did not receive payment from the Lancasters, American Reliable sent them a cancellation notice in December 2014, again notifying them that payments be made directly to the insurer. The Lancasters denied having received either notice from American Reliable, but the record included a receipt for certificate of mailing.
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Pennsylvania Court Holds That Violent Acts Are Not Lethal To The Duty To Defend
Pennsylvania’s highest court recently rejected Erie Insurance Exchange’s argument that it had no duty to defend a claim arising out of a shooting because it did not involve an accident, and therefore, there was no “occurrence” under the policy. The court held that the duty to defend was triggered because the underlying allegations were not “patently outside the policy coverage.” This decision can have far reaching effects on other kinds of claims involving intentional conduct.
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Hunton Insurance Team Helps Policyholders Prepare for the 2019 Hurricane Season, Part 1 of 3
In the first part of a 3-part series, the Hunton insurance team discusses how policyholders can plan for this year’s hurricane season. Part 2 will address how to prepare a claim after a loss in order to maximize the potential recovery, including by taking photographs of any damage and tracking curfews that affect your operations. Part 3 will discuss how to prevent denials of pending claims based on suit limitations periods. The team’s goal is to provide a comprehensive outline that will guide policyholders before and after a loss.
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Hunton Insurance Head, Walter Andrews, Discusses the Adverse Impact of Georgia’s Recent High Court “Bad Faith” Decision in First Acceptance
In a March 13, 2019 article appearing in Law360, Hunton Insurance team head, Walter Andrews, explains the adverse impact of a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that attempts to clarify the rules governing settlement of insured liability claims under Georgia law. As Walter explains, however, the decision stands to hinder settlements and potentially subject innocent insureds to staggering liability beyond that covered by their insurance. In First Acceptance Ins. Co. of Georgia, Inc. v. Hughes, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that policyholders must make a “valid offer” – that is, one that contains definite time limits and other terms – before an insurance company is required to settle. As Walter told Law360, the court took “an overly narrow approach” that is “disturbing and is likely to act as a deterrent to settlements in the future.” He goes on to explain that insurance companies will actually have less incentive to settle, “which means that fewer cases will settle and cases will linger longer in court, which is not in the interests of either the injured parties or the insured defendants.”
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Georgia Supreme Court Holds “Valid Offer” Necessary For Establishing Bad Faith Failure to Settle
The Georgia Supreme Court ruled this week that First Acceptance Insurance Co. need not pay a $5.3 million excess judgment against its insured, Ronald Jackson. First Acceptance Ins. Co. of Georgia, Inc. v. Hughes, No. S18G0517, 2019 WL 1103831 (Ga. Mar. 11, 2019), even though Jackson’s insurer could have settled the claim for Jackson’s $50,000 policy limits.
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Unpaid Hurricane Maria Insurance Claims, New Laws in Puerto Rico, and the Lesson for all Policyholders
Puerto Rico’s dire insurance situation more than a year after Hurricane Maria remains a constant reminder of why policyholders must diligently pursue their property and business interruption claims in the immediate aftermath of a storm. The numbers are staggering. On an island the approximate size of Connecticut, Hurricane Maria caused an estimated $100 billion in damage. According to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner of Puerto Rico, the hurricane resulted in more than 287,000 insurance claims. Roughly 11,000 of those claims, representing an estimated $2 billion in losses, remain unresolved.
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“Crypto-Property:” Ohio Court Says Crypto-Currency is Personal Property Under Homeowners’ Policy
In what appears to be a case of first impression, an Ohio trial court ruled in Kimmelman v. Wayne Insurance Group, that the crypto-currency, Bitcoin, constitutes personal property in the context of a first-party homeowners’ insurance policy and, therefore, its theft would not be subject to the policy’s $200 sublimit for loss of “money.”
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