Insurers Can Void a Policy if the Insured Lies About a Material Fact
In almost every policy of insurance, there is a clause declaring the policy void if the insured misrepresents or conceals material facts or commits fraud. For example:
We do not pay for bodily injury or property damage which is expected by, directed by, or intended by an insured. This exclusion does not apply to bodily injury that arises out of the use of reasonable force to protect people or property. (AAIS Form BP-200, (c) 1987 AAIS).
This Coverage Form is void in any case of fraud by you at any time as it relates to this Coverage Form. It is also void if you or any other “insured,” at any time, intentionally conceal or misrepresent a material fact concerning: a. This Coverage Form; b. The covered “auto”; c. Your interest in the covered “auto”; or d. A claim under this Coverage Form. (Insurance Services Office form CA 00 01 01 87).
The policy wording requires that the insurer prove, not only that the insured misrepresented or concealed a material fact but must also prove that the insured did so with the intent to deceive.
In harmony with this statutory provision, the fraud provision in an insurance policy that sets forth: “any insurance fraud shall void all personal injury protection coverage arising from the claim with respect to the insured who committed the fraud” is appropriate and enforceable.
Whenever an insurer attempts to refuse coverage because a loss is caused by the intentional act of an insured, it must understand that it has the burden of proving that intent by a preponderance of available evidence. Denial for intentional acts without sufficient evidence can be the basis for a suit against the insurer.
The burden of establishing if the act is intentional is different in different jurisdictions. According to New York, New Jersey, and Colorado law, the insurer bears the burden of proving that the insured expected or intended the property damage in environmental contamination cases.
© 2020 – Barry Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 52 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine/ACE Legend Award.
Over the last 52 years Barry Zalma has dedicated his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud. He has created the following library of books and other materials to make it possible for insurers and their claims staff to become insurance claims professionals.
Read posts from Barry Zalma at https://parler.com/profile/Zalma/posts
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