Disclaimer Requirement of N.Y. Insurance Law § 3420(d)(2) Held Not to Apply to Property Damage Claims

by Cozen O'Connor
Contact

The New York Court of Appeals recently confirmed that the heightened timeliness of disclaimer requirement in New York Insurance Law § 3420(d)(2) does not apply to claims arising from property damage, in KeySpan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance America, Inc., et al., 2014 N.Y. Slip Op. 4113 (N.Y. June 10, 2014). Unanimously reversing the appellate division, the KeySpan court found that this standard for waiver of coverage defenses extends only when an insured seeks coverage under a New York liability policy for bodily injuries or death sustained in New York. Because this dispute arose from property damage claims, the insurers, which previously reserved their rights, had no duty under the statute to disclaim “as soon as reasonably possible.” Rather, the KeySpan court remanded the case to the lower court to determine, under the common law standard for waiver, if the evidence called for a trial on whether the insurers forfeited their right to disclaim coverage.

The underlying dispute arose from environmental contamination claims caused by the insured’s manufactured gas plants. The insured provided notice, and the insurers issued a reservation of rights based on the insured’s untimely notice. The insured filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a ruling that the excess insurers had a duty to defend and indemnify; in response, the insurers asserted late notice as an affirmative defense warranting a denial of coverage.  

The supreme court granted summary judgment for the insurers, holding that the defendants had no duty to defend or indemnify. However, the appellate division modified the order, and instead denied summary judgment for the excess insurers. The appellate division agreed that the insured provided untimely notice as a matter of law. However, it ruled that a jury should decide if the insurers possessed sufficient knowledge requiring them to provide written disclaimers for the insured’s late notice “as soon as reasonably possible after first learning of the accident or of grounds for disclaimer of liability.” The court cited other appellate division courts that applied this standard in the context of property damage.

On appeal, the insurers argued that the appellate division erred in imposing this standard for waiver, seemingly derived from New York Insurance Law § 3420(d)(2), and that the court should have instead applied the common law standard. Interestingly, the plaintiff also relied on the common law standard for waiver in pleading its case.

The New York Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with the insurers and held that the lower court erroneously imposed the heightened statutory standard. The KeySpan court clarified that Insurance Law § 3420(d)(2) does not apply to cases arising out of property damage by its plain terms. Rather, this timeliness standard applies only to “insurance cases involving death and bodily injury claims arising out of a New York accident and brought under a New York liability policy.” Clarifying mixed case law on the issue, the KeySpan court stated that the courts applying this standard to property damage claims wrongfully extended the scope of this statute and should not be followed.

The decision in KeySpan clarifies that neither Insurance Law § 3420(d)(2) nor its strict timeliness standard for disclaimers applies outside the context of accidental death or bodily injury. In those other contexts, the more liberal standards of common law waiver and estoppel apply.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Cozen O'Connor | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Cozen O'Connor
Contact
more
less

Cozen O'Connor on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.