Tennessee Insurance Litigation Blog

Tennessee Insurance Litigation Blog

Legal insights on insurance litigation in the State of Tennessee

The Policyholder’s Perspective from
Brandon McWherter
of Gilbert Russell McWherter Scott Bobbitt PLC
J. Brandon McWherter is a partner at Gilbert Russell McWherter Scott Bobbitt PLC, which has four Tennessee offices in Memphis, Jackson, Nashville, and Chattanooga. Read More
The Insurance Company’s Perspective from
Parks T. Chastain
of Brewer, Krause, Brooks & Chastain, PLLC
Parks T. Chastain, a member in the Nashville, Tennessee law firm of Brewer, Krause, Brooks, Chastain & Burrow, PLLC, focuses on the representation of insurers. Read More

Category Archives: Coverage Issues

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When is Overhead and Profit Due in Tennessee?

Posted in Coverage Issues, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized, Valuation Issues
Several years ago I discussed a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case where the court determined that general contractor’s Overhead and Profit were recoverable if the insured would “reasonably be expected to hire a contractor to repair its property”  See Parkway Assoc., LLC v. Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co., 129 Fed. Appx. 955 (6th Cir. 2005).… Continue Reading

Water Damage from an Aquarium – Covered or Not?

Posted in Coverage Issues
Most water damage is covered in a typical homeowner’s policy. However, this coverage may only extend to the structure, and not the personal property, depending on the policy language. This is because many homeowner’s policies cover all forms of direct physical loss – subject to certain exclusions. Conversely, personal property may be covered by only… Continue Reading

Insurance Companies Bear the Burden of Proving Arson

Posted in Coverage Issues, Litigation Tactics, Miscellaneous
Back in November 2013, I had the great honor to represent Larry and Sue Banks in their case against Cincinnati Insurance Company.  My partner, Clint Scott, and I presented the case to a federal jury and after deliberations, the jury returned a verdict for more than $2.2 million.  The insurance company accused the Banks of… Continue Reading

When it Comes to Insurance Policies, There is No Difference in Cosmetic Damage and Functional Damage

Posted in Coverage Issues, Litigation Tactics, Miscellaneous
In the past, I’ve posted a few articles regarding the recent trend of insurers to attempt to deny hail damage claims on the basis that the damage is “cosmetic” rather than “functional.”  Most commonly, the issue arises when there are hail dents to a metal roof and the insurance company denies the claim on the… Continue Reading

SUIT AGAINST US CLAUSE APPLIES TO ALL CLAIMS INCLUDING FAILURE TO PROCURE

Posted in Agent Involvement, Application Misrepresentations, Coverage Issues, Litigation Tactics
The Court of Appeals recently issued its opinion in Maples v. Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Co., E2015-00285-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. 2015). The Maples case dealt with fire damage to the Maples’ home in Crossville, Tennessee, insured with Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.  Coverage was denied on August 26, 2013.  Suit was filed on August 6, 2014,… Continue Reading

“MAKE AVAILABLE” DOES NOT REQUIRE INSURERS TO OFFER SINKHOLE COVERAGE

Posted in Claim Tips, Coverage Issues, Litigation Tactics
Tennessee has a statute, T.C.A. § 56-7-130, concerning insurance company requirements with respect to providing sink hole coverage and handling sink hole claims.   The statute was recently amended, and prior to July 1, 2014, was the subject of much litigation.  At issue was whether the statute requiring insurance carriers to “make available” sink hole coverage… Continue Reading

The Law of Matching in Tennessee

Posted in Claim Tips, Coverage Issues
A hail storm hits a shingled roof, but only damages a handful of shingles.  Unfortunately, the shingles on the roof are no longer manufactured, which would result in a mismatched checkerboard of colors on the roof if only the few damaged shingles were replaced.  In those circumstances, is the insurance company obligated to replace the… Continue Reading

Cosmetic Damage – Honest Disagreement or Reckless Misbehavior?

Posted in Bad Faith, Coverage Issues
Insurance companies are increasingly denying claims based on engineering reports that there is “no functional damage” (damage which impairs the functionality of the roof) and that the damage is “cosmetic only.”  For example, if a hail storm comes through and wreaks havoc on a metal roof to a home, it might still be functional even… Continue Reading

Insureds Have Obligations Too

Posted in Claim Tips, Coverage Issues
In this age where assaults against policy conditions are common, it is good to see a court recognize that an insured has an obligation, and a burden, when seeking to recover insurance benefits.  In Meyers v. Farm Aid Association of Loudon County, No. E2103-02585-COA-R9-CV, filed December 9, 2014 (download Meyers v. Farmers Aid), the Tennessee… Continue Reading

Amendment to Sinkhole Statute Clarifies Coverage Litigation

Posted in Coverage Issues
As many are aware, the Tennessee Legislature recently amended T.C.A. § 56-7-130, the statute requiring insurance carriers offering homeowner’s insurance in the state to “make available” sinkhole coverage to their insureds. The original statute was enacted in 2006, and its verbiage has created a few issues now going through the court systems. I wanted to comment further… Continue Reading

Was Middle School Grammar Study a Waste of Time? Court of Appeals Finds 12 Month Business Income Limitation for Period of Restoration to be Ambiguous – Despite Expert Proof as to Sentence Diagramming

Posted in Coverage Issues
Long title, I know, but hopefully it sparked your interest, or perhaps dredged up painful memories of drawing those sentence diagram structures on wide ruled paper, wondering if you would ever use that skill in “real life.”  Well, see how you think it worked in the case of Artist Building Partners v. Auto-Owners Mutual Insurance… Continue Reading

The Law of California Applies to an Insurance Policy Insuring Tennessee Property?

Posted in Coverage Issues
Practitioners should be aware that Tennessee courts generally apply the law of the state where an insurance policy was issued and delivered if there is no enforceable choice of law clause in the policy.  Gov’t. Employees Ins. Co. v. Bloodworth, 2007 Tenn. App. LEXIS 404 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007).  So, for example, if a policy on… Continue Reading

Does Arson Constitute Vandalism?

Posted in Coverage Issues
I represented a Memphis homeowner a couple of years ago whose residential rental property was destroyed by fire. The policy provided coverage for fire loss, but contained an exclusion for "vandalism and malicious mischief  . . . if the dwelling has been vacant for more than 30 days immediately before the loss."  In our case, it was undisputed that the… Continue Reading

Can An Insurance Company “End Around” the Innocent Spouse Doctrine . . . Maybe Not

Posted in Coverage Issues
Yesterday, I wrote a bit about the recent Tuturea v. Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company case that was decided last week by the Western Section of the Court of Appeals.  Remember, this is the case where the plaintiff’s allegedly insane husband set fire to the house in an unsuccessful effort to commit suicide.  I saved… Continue Reading

The “I’m Too Crazy To Intentionally Burn My House” Defense – Is it Viable in Tennessee?

Posted in Coverage Issues
The Tennessee Court of Appeals released Tuturea v. Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company on June 29, 2010.  Its certainly an interesting opinion, although a bit long for fun reading (29 pages). The basic facts are this.  Mr. Tuturea suffered from terminal cancer, and set fire to his house in an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide.… Continue Reading

Recent Developments – Adams v. Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company

Posted in Coverage Issues
Earlier this week, the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued a 24 page opinion addressing a variety of issues affecting insureds in the State of Tennessee. The case is Adams v. Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, a copy of which is available here. My partner, Clint Scott, and I represented the insured in this case, which was tried… Continue Reading

Rules of Interpretation for Insurance Policies

Posted in Coverage Issues
Insurance litigation requires a lot of briefing so we keep a stash of helpful citations that are often used in our court filings.  An example is the rules that courts must follow when interpreting insurance policies.  These rules of construction can be quite helpful in the right case.  Below are several that insurance practitioners should… Continue Reading

An Insured Need Not Rebuild at the Same Premises in Order to Recover Replacement Cost

Posted in Claim Tips, Coverage Issues
 Parks’ recent post about whether an insured has to rebuild at the same location in order to recover replacement cost got me thinking, and then researching.  Here’s what I found: Although none in Tennessee, there are a dozen or so cases across the country dealing with the issue of whether an insured has to rebuild… Continue Reading