April 2013 Bad Faith Cases: Court Recommends Affirmation Of Summary Judgement In Bad Faith Case Because Insured Was Not Living In The Insured Building (Philadelphia County Common Pleas)

In Anderson v. Ins. Placement Facility of Pennsylvania, an insured sued his homeowner’s insurance carrier for bad faith after the carrier denied coverage for wind damage sustained by the insured’s home. After the insured filed his original claim in March 2010, the carrier sent an adjuster to inspect the damage. The adjuster noticed that the home appeared vacant. The insured reported that he had been living with his girlfriend, but went back and forth between properties. The adjuster requested copies of the insured’s water bills to corroborate this story. Shortly thereafter, the carrier issued a reservation of rights. In October 2010, the carrier denied coverage, citing a policy exclusion that barred coverage over buildings that are vacant for over sixty days.
The insured disagreed and filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in June 2011. He alleged a single claim for bad faith against the carrier for its allegedly unreasonable denial of benefits under the insured’s policy. The carrier filed summary judgment and the court granted the motion. Afterwards, the insured appealed the court’s grant of summary judgment.
In the court’s Rule 1925 opinion in support of affirmance on appeal, it reasoned that its grant of summary judgment should be affirmed because the carrier properly investigated the loss, hiring an adjuster to examine the property. Once the adjuster recognized that the property was vacant, he inquired with the insured, who admitted that he was living somewhere else most of the time. As such, the insured’s bad faith claim was without merit because the damages incurred by his home were explicitly excluded under the policy.
Date of Decision: February 5, 2013
Anderson v. Insurance Placement Facility of Pennsylvania, June Term 2011, No. 00873, 2013 Phila. Ct. Com. Pl. LEXIS 32, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (Pa. C.P. 2013) (Tucker, J.)