Property Insurance News


08/04/2021 12:33 PM
Minor Claims Fraud Voids Entire Policy
In 2017, there was a large house that was insured under a homeowners policy issued by the defendant to the plaintiff and his then-wife. A fire completely destroyed the house on May 16, 2017. The fire marshal was unable to determine the cause of the fire but could not rule out that it originated at the grinder. The plaintiff filed an insurance claim. The defendant made an advance payment of $10,000 to the plaintiff for loss of personal property. An adjuster interviewed the plaintiff on May 22, taking an initial recorded statement. During the interview, the plaintiff represented that he made $150,000 annually as a general contractor with his business, Kelly and Sons Construction, Inc. He also represented that, in the 5 months before the fire, he had been staying in the property’s guesthouse or with his girlfriend. After the interview, the defendant set loss reserves on the plaintiff’s claim. It also began paying "Additional Living Expense" (ALE) benefits to cover the cost of alternative housing.

08/04/2021 11:47 AM
GAO Recommends FEMA Utilize Compliance Data, Update Floodplain Maps
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) – a nonpartisan government audit agency – has released a new report, which recommends that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reconsider the mandatory purchase requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP requires homeowners with federally regulated mortgages to purchase flood insurance for properties that are situated in areas of high flood risk. However, GAO noted in its report that some of FEMA’s floodplain maps are outdated. The agency also mentioned that FEMA’s floodplain maps also ‘do not reflect how climate change may affect flood risk.’ GAO also stated that under FEMA’s mandatory purchase requirement, homebuyers and owners cannot take loans out for their high flood risk properties unless their lenders can verify that they have flood insurance; at least 10 federal entities oversee lender compliance. It was noted that regulators have frequently identified violations related to a lack of or insufficient flood insurance coverage for properties subject to the requirement.

08/04/2021 11:27 AM
McLarens Acquires Canadian Loss Adjuster MGB Claims
Insurance services provider McLarens is set to acquire MGB Claims, a complex commercial claims adjusting firm based in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto with additional employees in Calgary and Vancouver, MGB Claims’ team consists of 25 adjusters plus additional support personnel. MGB Claims focuses on large and complex claims in Canada and the US across lines such as Property & Casualty; Professional and Commercial General Liability; Cyber; Medical Liability; Energy & Natural Resources; Environmental; and Film & Entertainment. The company is seen as a complementary fit with McLarens, adding significant and multi-faceted complex loss management expertise and technical skills to McLarens’ existing aviation and natural resources operations in Canada.

08/03/2021 01:45 PM
Cleanup Continues After EF3 Tornado in Bucks County, Pennsylvania
The cleanup – and the wait on insurance claims – continued Monday in some of the hardest hit neighborhoods by last week’s powerful tornado that tore through the Old Lincoln Highway corridor in Bensalem. The EF3 tornado significantly damaged mobile homes Thursday night at Penn Valley Mobile Homes, Weisser Mobile Homes and at the Faulkner Automotive Group dealerships, all of which are in the area of Old Lincoln Highway and Street Road near the Interstate 276 overpass. On Monday, the Faulkner dealership was fenced in while crews cleaned up the property that was at the center of the EF3 storm that produced top winds of 140 miles per hour when it made its 3.5-mile, 8-minute path through Northeast Philadelphia and Bensalem. It was the strongest of nine confirmed tornadoes that touched down from the Lehigh Valley to the Jersey shore on Thursday night. It was the first EF3 tornado to hit Pennsylvania since 2004 and the first to lash Bucks County in at least 125 years.

08/02/2021 02:01 PM
Florida Policyholder Permitted to Videotape Appraisal
In Silversmith v State Farm Insurance Company, 2021 W.L. 2910240 (Fla. 4th DCA July 7, 2021), Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that policyholders may openly videotape an inspection by the insurance company appraiser, despite the state’s ‘two-party consent law.’ The court held that an appraiser has ‘no legitimate expectation of privacy while in the insured’s home for the inspection.’ Silversmith v State Farm, 2021 WL 291040, p.1. The facts revealed that the insurer invoked the appraisal clause on a property loss, and the policyholder sought to videotape the appraisal. The insurer’s appraiser objected on privacy grounds. The policyholder filed an action seeking permission to videotape the appraisal of her home, and the trial court refused. Relying on Section 934.03 Florida Statutes 2020 (the two-party consent rule), the trial court denied the request, ruling, ‘no one may audio/video record the inspection unless all participants consent.’ Id. On appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court and held (1) ‘nothing in the policy precluded [the videotaping] of an appraisal inspection,’ and (2) the insurer’s appraiser ‘has no legitimate expectation of privacy while in the insured’s home for the inspection.’ The appellate Court reversed the trial court order and remanded the case for further proceedings. Does this mean an insurer can videotape the inspection conducted by the insured’s appraiser? Not on the plain language of this decision. The court decided this case on a legitimate expectation of privacy in the insured’s home. The court found the insurance company’s appraiser did not have one; the question remains whether a court will hold the insured’s own appraiser to this same privacy standard. So, based on this case, an insured in Florida has the right to videotape the insurer’s appraiser during an inspection of the insured’s home.

07/30/2021 01:11 PM
Suspected Tornado in Jersey Shore Town Damaged at Least 35 Homes
At least 35 homes in the High Bar Harbor section of Long Beach Island were damaged and three people were injured when a suspected tornado hit the Jersey Shore town Thursday night during fierce storms that triggered a dozen tornado warnings, officials said. Fifteen of the homes on northern end of the island sustained ‘extensive’ damage with some having their roofs ripped off, Long Beach Township police said Friday. Three people were treated at the scene for cuts from flying debris, officer Megan Keller said. Those 15 homes remain without power Friday morning, though Atlantic City Electric has replaced five damaged utility poles and restored electricity to customers that lost power during the storm.

07/30/2021 11:57 AM
Two Tornadoes Track Through Eastern Pennsylvania
Two destructive tornadoes tore through eastern Pennsylvania in just over an hour’s time Thursday night, ripping through a mobile home park, destroying buildings at an auto dealership and leaving those who witnessed the fast-moving storms in disbelief. Five people were hurt, but officials in Bucks County said there were no deaths or life-threatening injuries. Thursday night, officials were still assessing the damage and did not know how many residents had been displaced or how many homes and businesses were seriously damaged beyond the car dealership. "This was a devastating tornado that came through the [dealership] area, looked like a TV show. It looked like a bomb went off," said Bensalem Public Safety Director Fred Harran of the second tornado. "It’s just gone.

07/29/2021 11:39 AM
Supercell Storm Produces Large Hail, Severe Winds in Northern Minnesota
Severe storms that produced ‘monster-sized’ hail and high winds on Monday evening left behind a trail of ruin -- from downed trees to home and property damage -- in its wake across much of Beltrami County and beyond. Beltrami County Emergency Management director Christopher Muller reported that large hail, ranging from golf ball to baseball-sized, was the dominant feature of the storm and was responsible for the majority of the damage around the county. The storm, which likely had wind speeds of more than 60 mph, hit Redby and Red Lake particularly hard. The towns of Blackduck, Tenstrike and Pennington, along with parts of southeast Beltrami and Cass County also experienced the severe weather, National Weather Service Grand Forks meteorologist Carl Jones said. ‘There’s obviously going to be some broken windows, rough damage to residences and structures as well as siding damage on homes due to the large hail,’ Muller said.

07/27/2021 03:01 PM
Firefighters Use Backfires as California’s Mega Blaze Grows
The Dixie Fire, California’s largest wildfire, swelled to 208,206 acres Tuesday, an area that’s a little bigger than New York City. The blaze located that’s burning about 250 miles northeast of San Francisco is 23% contained, the U.S. Forest Service said. The number of structures destroyed increased to 31, with seven structures damaged, officials said. Fourteen other minor structures were also damaged. These numbers are expected to increase as crews conduct damage assessments on the ground. There are 10,721 structures threatened. No deaths or injuries have been reported. The eastern edge of the fire remains the most active section, and on Monday night, fire behavior analyst Dennis Burns gave an update on this area of the blaze.

07/26/2021 11:46 AM
NWS Confirms Three Tornadoes in Michigan
Thousands of customers are still without power after three tornadoes tore through Michigan over the weekend, leaving damage, debris and power outages across the Detroit area. As of Monday morning, nearly 87,000 customers in remain without power in the state, according to Poweroutage.us. At the peak of the outage, more than 150,000 customers were affected. The severe weather resulted in "significant damage to the electric infrastructure," utility DTE said on its website. "DTE teams are working around the clock to restore power after heavy rain and tornadoes ripped through southeast Michigan on Saturday," the utility said. Crews were assessing damage and making repairs after the storm brought down more than 1,200 wires, according to DTE. The National Weather Service (NWS) Detroit office confirmed at least three EF-1 tornadoes hit the area on Saturday in White Lake, Clayton Township and the city Armada, leaving damage and debris in their wake.