Tag Archives: Arson

Arson of Vacant House: Covered Fire Loss or Excluded Vandalism?

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 … Continue Reading

To Plea or Not to Plea? Insurer’s Denial of Coverage for Residential Fire Loss Upheld

I recently came across an interesting opinion, Fuller v. Mercury Insurance Company of Georgia,1 where the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals discussed the effect of a guilty plea on a policyholder’s civil action against their insurance carrier. The opinion stemmed from a residential fire loss and the insured’s subsequent claim for benefits under her homeowner’s … Continue Reading

Innocent Spouse Ability to Recover Policy Proceeds Following Arson

In Texas, unlike some states, courts assign a minor role to public policy when interpreting insurance policies. A good example is the treatment of an arsonist’s innocent spouse. As has been described earlier, the “arson defense” permits a carrier to avoid payment upon a showing that the policyholder intentionally created a loss.1 But what about … Continue Reading

Fire Claim Was Not Mischief but Other Courts Disagree

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 … Continue Reading

Using a Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence of Prior Fires or Prior Insurance Claims

Motions in limine are commonly used to seek a pre-trial ruling regarding excluding inadmissible or prejudicial evidence. At the federal level, Federal Rules of Evidence (“FRE”) 103(d) and 104(c),1 402,2 403,3 and 611(a)4 and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 16(c)5 provide the underlying bases for in limine motions, though the power to rule on … Continue Reading

Court Finds That an Agent’s Bad Manners and Technical Violations of Procedures and Rules Does Not Establish Bad Faith

Allstate Indemnity Co. v. Shoopman Docket No. 09-cv-0083 (E.D. Ky. February 11, 2010) In this case, the Shoopmans’ home was substantially damaged by fire. After they filed a claim, Allstate investigated the causes of the fire and suspected the fire was the result of arson and that an “insured person” was involved in the arson … Continue Reading

Sandy Burnette Defends Insurance Fraud Fighters

(*Chip Merlin’s Note—Sandy Burnette is a prominent insurance defense attorney with exceptional experience in cases where insurance fraud or arson are suspected. I have known Sandy for 27 years. As you can see from his rhetoric, he is a fierce defender for those engaged in the fight against insurance fraud. Keeping with my Fair and … Continue Reading

Vandalism, Theft And Arson Insurance Claims Rise

The deteriorating economy appears to be having an impact on our business. We are being referred more insurance disputes involving losses that are directly the result of the souring economy. For the first time in a decade, we have been referred several fire claims that are allegedly of an incendiary (intentionally set) cause. There are … Continue Reading
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