Last week the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted Travelers Indemnity Company’s Motion for Summary Judgment permitting them to dodge hail harm claims made by policyholder Mapleton at Countryside Condominium Association Inc. (“Mapleton”).1 Mapleton introduced go well with towards Travelers for breach of contract and unhealthy religion following two hailstorms impacting their buildings in June 2016 and April 2017. The hailstorms brought about harm to the condominium’s siding estimated at $2.58 million.
The Indiana federal choose discovered Mapleton made their claims with Travelers “unreasonably late” – making the primary declare roughly six months after the primary hailstorm, and roughly eleven months after the second hailstorm. Traveler’s denied each claims, declaring Mapleton didn’t maintain harm because of the hailstorms.
The Travelers’ insurance policies said they’d cowl direct bodily lack of or harm to Mapleton’s property topic to sure circumstances. The insurance policies required Mapleton to offer “prompt notice of the loss or damage” and “[a]s soon as possible, give…a description of how, when and where the loss or damage occurred.”
The court docket discovered that “no reasonable juror could find that Mapleton gave timely or reasonable notice” of its alleged harm on this case. Furthermore, the trial court docket said “[t]he duty to notify is a condition precedent to the insurance company’s liability to its insured under Indiana law.”
Mapleton argued their claims weren’t unreasonably late and Travelers didn’t undergo any prejudice from the late discover. Mapleton indicated they tried to file a declare earlier within the fall of 2016 for the primary hailstorm however was advised by the Travelers agent “it was a waste of time.” The court docket held an “intention” to file a declare isn’t ample, because the court docket document mirrored a proper declare was not filed for the primary hailstorm till January 2017.
Mapleton argued that regardless of the six-month hole, the buildings had been correctly persevered for inspection. Nevertheless, the trial court docket discovered Mapleton’s delay uncovered the property “to wear and tear and potential damage from other weather events” and subsequent repairs by Mapleton’s contractor created challenges in figuring out what harm the June 2016 storm brought about.
The trial court docket supported their place with Indiana case regulation holding the immediate discover requirement affords insurers the chance to analyze circumstances surrounding claimed losses in “a timely and adequate manner.”2 Judge Pratt articulated:
Indiana Courts view discover as an important element of an insurance coverage declare, and consequently have created a rebuttable authorized presumption that an insurer is prejudiced by failure to adjust to a discover requirement.
As for the delay in submitting their second declare, Mapleton argued they had been discouraged from the reporting of their first declare and had been awaiting the investigation of its different claims. The court docket held “a delay of eleven months is unreasonable.” Likewise, the court docket discovered the six-month and eleven-month declare reporting was improper underneath Indiana case regulation and didn’t meet the coverage’s discover requirement.___________________________________________________1Mapleton at Countryside Condominium Assoc., Inc. v. Travelers Indemnity Co., No. 1:18-cv-3574, 2020 WL 4448458 (S.D. Ind. Aug. 3,2020).2Sheehan Const. Co., Inc. v. Cont’l Cas. Co., 938 N.E.2nd 685, 689 (Ind. 2010).