A recent unpublished decision by a N.J. federal district judge addressed whether an insurance company can be forced to pay out $300,000 on a life insurance policy purchased by a senior who stopped paying premiums before his death. Smith v. Conseco. The New Jersey legislature enacted a statute, effective in 2000, requiring insurers to remind… Continue Reading
A recent New Jersey Appellate Division decision in Kohler v. Life Insurance Company of North America and Best Med Consultants, Inc., addressed a disability insurance carrier’s right to have a disability claimant examined through a so-called “independent medical examination (“IME”).”
In response to concerns raised by the public, legislators, the Community Associations Institute and others, Congress recently passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. Signed by President Obama into law, the legislation forestalls significant increases in flood insurance premiums that were set to have taken effect.
With the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy fast approaching, policyholders who sustained damage during the storm who have not yet settled their insurance claims, may be running up against some contractually imposed deadlines. Most insurance policies limit the time period within which an insured is permitted to file suit against an insurer for the insurer’s failure to provide benefits under the policy. Insurance policies are considered contracts, and normally in New Jersey an aggrieved party has up to six years to sue for an alleged breach of contract. However, parties are free to enter into contracts that contain terms which restrict rights that would otherwise be available to one party or the other. In the insurance context, policy provisions which limit the time period within which an insured is permitted to sue are found in virtually all policies.
As many New Jersey residents decide whether to modify their existing homes in coastal areas, damaged by Sandy, identifying and retaining qualified, licensed contractors to “raise” existing structures is a major concern.
Landlords and others have suffered from heavy rains, high winds and flooding. And experts predict that severe storms will become more common due to global climate change. Although you can’t stop storms, you can reduce risks.
While Superstorm Sandy brought with it destructive winds and tidal surges, it also ushered in tides of change for New Jersey’s insurance market and regulatory scheme. Now that insurance company coverage decisions are starting to emerge, the New Jersey Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, codified as N.J.A.C. 11:2-17.1, et al., is in the spotlight. The Act is currently only enforceable by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance and action is typically only taken if a pattern of abuse is evident.
It is no surprise that legislation mandating changes to homeowners insurance in New Jersey has begun to make its way through Trenton following Superstorm Sandy. Most recently, a bill was signed into law which adds information to be included in the required Homeowners Insurance Consumer Information Brochure which accompanies new and renewal policies. The new law will require the inclusion of a one-page summary of the policy including “notable” coverages and exclusions, as determined by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance.
According to the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, as of March 1, 2013, approximately 40% of flood-related Sandy claims are still unresolved. Many claims involve legal issues associated with the following circumstances, many of which we have seen in cases we are currently handling on behalf of insured policy – holders in the tri-state area:
The bad news is that costs increased when taxes rose in January. Interest rates may also rise. The good news is that for savvy landlords, there are some proactive strategies to improve the bottom line now with the help of sound legal counsel. Following are Stark & Stark’s top 10 tips for landlords to consider: