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Minneapolis Insurance Law Blog

RSJ Enforces Homeowners Appraisal Rights Despite Insurance Companies Objection

RSJ attorney Alexander Jadin helped another homeowner compel an insurance company to participate in the appraisal process pursuant to the terms of its policy.   In the case of Rudd v. Chubb, the insurance company refused to go to appraisal to resolve the cause and amount of the loss. 

Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (MCIOA)

The Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (Minnesota Statute § 515B), commonly referred to as MCIOA, is a Minnesota state law that governs the operation of condominium associations and other common interest communities. MCIOA provides legal authority to address issues that frequently affect common interest communities.

Is your home exposed to environmental risks?

When you have a home, you know you have to insure it to protect it from the usual risks. There is always a chance that you could have a fire or that a wind or hail storm could strike and damage your property. In some areas, including Minnesota, at certain times of the year, there is the risk of a tornado or even potential for flooding. And your homeowner's policy also probably includes some level of protection for personal liability, such as would be needed in the case of someone being injured on your premises.

But there may be additional risks that you may not anticipate. A recent risk index was released that catalogs the various environmental risks of the nation's housing stock. The report found that there are 17.3 million residences located in high-risk zip codes. The index analyzed more than 8,000 zip codes and classified different types of environmental risk to which those homes were exposed.

One dam thing after another

The crisis at the Oroville Dam and the evacuation of 200,000 people have focused attention, at least briefly, on the subject of dams in the U.S., and their ability to continue to function. There are thousands of large and small dams across the country, and many of them are at or beyond their designed life expectancy.

Most are not high-profile dams like Oroville or Hoover that provide water, power and flood control for significant portions of the population. Ironically, these dams are typically actively maintained. Oroville is a danger because of its size and the damage a failure could leave behind, but there are 84,000 dams in the U.S., and many are small and were often built away from population centers.

Don't Get Burned by a Fire Insurance Claim

Most of us don't spend a lot of time thinking about what we would do if our homes catch fire. And even fewer of us consider what we would do if our insurance companies denied our insurance claim for such a loss. But these things happen all the time. This article outlines steps that a home or business owner should take be in the best possible position to get the highest quality of service from your insurance company.

Always check with your insurer first

Insurance policies are designed to protect specific risks under specific circumstances. This is why the policy to protect your home or business may run for many, many pages in length. The insurance company is describing what they are protecting, they types of loss protected and when they will pay. Most people have little experience deciphering these documents and rely on their insurance agent to find the policy that provides the coverage they believe they need.

This means that if you have insurance for one item, you may not have it if some small element of your circumstance changes. If you have coverage for your home in Minnesota, you may not realize that most homeowner's or flood policies do not cover water intrusion from issues like a sewer backing up through a basement floor drain. fortunately, most never suffer this problem and it never becomes the source of an insurance dispute.

Beware a reservation of rights letter

When you have a valid insurance policy, one of the benefits of the policy is the insurer's duty to defend. In other words, if you are sued for damages, and the policy nominally covers the actions that caused the injury, the insurer has a duty to pay for your legal defense.

In most cases, the insurer will concede their duty to defend and put forth a defense. Sometimes, they may argue your claim is not covered and they have no duty to defend, but will defend under a "reservation of rights." This means they believe that some or all of your claims are not covered under the policy and the "right" they are reserving is the right to deny coverage to your claim at a later time.

Do you have the right insurance coverage?

For most people in Minnesota, their home is the largest single asset. It is also their home where they live. Having it damaged or destroyed is unlike most other experiences they will ever have and so many people have difficulty choosing an insurance policy that will provide the coverage they will need.

This means that you may have too much coverage for some aspects of your home and not enough for other issues. At its core, a homeowner policy should protect against the catastrophic loss of your home. This means having a too small deductible could make your coverage unnecessarily expensive and could induce behavior that leads to greater increases in your policy costs or to the cancelation of your policy for multiple claims.

Does my Insurance Policy Cover Repairs Required by the Building Code?

Homeowners whose properties have been damaged by a storm, fire or other catastrophe often ask whether their insurance policies cover repairs and upgrades required by Minnesota State Building Code. The answer to this question is almost always "yes."

Exercise care this holiday season

In the Twin Cities, December is dark. The sun sets around 4:30 PM most of the month and if there is thick overcast, by 3:00 PM, streetlights may be coming on in many places. So the bright lights of Christmas and other holiday displays can make things a little less dark and grim.

But as with any use of electrical items around the home, you need to be careful. According to the National Safety Council, there are about 210 structure fires every year that are related to holiday light displays. While you may find that amusing, insurance companies likely do not, as those fires result in 24 deaths, 27 injuries and more than $13 million dollars in damage.