Cozen O’Connor: Property Insurance

Property Insurance

Cozen O’Connor has represented major domestic and foreign property insurers on a worldwide basis for more than 40 years. Property insurers need knowledgeable and experienced counsel, and our attorneys are widely recognized as consummate first-party practitioners.

We have extensive experience with the full range of first-party property insurance coverages, including: all risks; builders risk; commercial property; commercial combined; cyber and electronic commerce risk; high-net-worth personal; inland marine; machinery breakdown; on- and off-shore energy; and business interruption.

Our team is distinguished by its dual core competencies: precise contractual analysis and powerful trial advocacy. In many cases, collegial negotiation among stakeholders can win the day. In those instances when it cannot, Cozen O’Connor is fully prepared to go to verdict and has an impressive record of success on behalf of insurer clients.

The firm handles trials in state and federal courts around the country, and argues appeals on coverage issues critical to the industry before all levels of appellate courts. We also advocate on behalf of insurers in pre-suit settlement negotiations, mediations and in arbitrations. Our attorneys have played a significant role in numerous recent high-profile losses, including Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, the 9/11 attacks, the Tohoku earthquake, numerous California wildfires and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Though every claim is different, Cozen O’Connor has an encyclopedic knowledge of the legal bases governing the good faith handling and resolution of any claim scenario. We handle losses arising from weather events and natural catastrophes, structural incidents, suspected arson and fraud, and terrorist and cyber attacks. With offices in 27 cities, Cozen O’Connor is capable of responding quickly and effectively wherever losses occur.

Individual members of the property insurance team have been recognized in Chambers USA. Several Cozen O’Connor attorneys have authored treatises in the property insurance field, including Insuring Real Property (Matthew Bender) and the Fire Litigation Handbook (National Fire Protection Association). Firm members are regularly invited to participate in or chair seminars at nationally recognized industry conferences, as well as to provide webinars and in-house training programs for members of the insurance industry. The extent of our industry involvement speaks to our credibility, as well as to our commitment and dedication to the insurance industry.
 

 

Experience

Publications

Florida Supreme Court Invited to Resolve Assignment-Of-Benefits Controversy [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

December 05, 2018

Introduction At least two Florida appellate courts have directly contradicted each other on an increasingly-important question facing Floridians and the insurance industry. The question is as follows: “Are insurance provisions valid which condition the validity of third-party benefits...

Complicated Cats [Best's Review]

September 01, 2018

Alycen Moss, of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance department, published an article titled, Complicated Cats, for Best's Review.

Texas Court Holds That Unpaid Appraisal Award Does Not Conclusively Establish Causation or Damages in Hurricane Ike Insurance Dispute [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

June 06, 2018

While Hurricane Ike made landfall in Texas almost ten years ago, the resulting litigation is alive and well as evidenced by the recent decision in Texas Windstorm Insurance Association v. Dickinson Independent School District, 14-16-00474-CV, 2018 WL 2436924 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] May 31,...

The Imperfect Storm: Harvey Litigation Will Be Fought Under Hailstorm Bill's Rules, While 'Menchaca' Looms in the Background [Texas Lawyer]

June 01, 2018

Stephen Pate, of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance Department, authored an article on his predictions on the course of Hurricane Harvey litigation entitled, "The Imperfect Storm: Harvey Litigation Will Be Governed by Hailstorm Bill's Rules, While 'Menchaca' Looms in the Background."

Can Insurance Appraisers Favor and Advocate For The Party That Selected Them? [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

March 22, 2018

This is a question the Colorado Supreme Court is set to resolve after recently granting Owners Insurance Company’s petition for writ of certiorari in Owners Insurance Company v. Dakota Station II Condominium Association, Inc., 2018 WL 948601 (Col. Feb. 20, 2018). The Colorado Court of Appeals...

Contractors' All Risks Insurance: Where are the limits? A lesson from the Bahamas [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

March 05, 2018

In a rare foray into insurance law, London’s Privy Council considered the interpretation of a Contractors’ All Risk (CAR) policy in Sun Alliance (Bahamas) Ltd v Scandi Enterprises Ltd (Bahamas),[1] and overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal of the Bahamas. The Judicial Committee of the...

Still Crazy After All These Years: Recent Developments on the Standard Mortgage Clause [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

January 10, 2018

A not uncommon scenario: after examining the charred debris of a property fire, investigators note that the building’s alarm failed to sound and automatic sprinkler system similarly failed to activate because neither had been inspected or maintained for over a year. The policy that insured the...

New Jersey Court: Continuous Trigger Ends When Nature of Damage Is Known [Global Insurance Alert]

October 26, 2017

Melissa Brill and Laura Dowgin discuss the decision in Air Master & Cooling, Inc. v. Selective Ins. Co. of Am., and its impact on progressive property damage claims in New Jersey.

Flood Exclusion Unambiguously Excludes Coverage For $49.5M In Hurricane Sandy Losses Caused By Storm Surge [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

October 09, 2017

Cozen O’Connor attorneys Thomas McKay III, Richard Mackowsky, Charles Jesuit, and Melissa Brill recently secured summary judgment from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in favor of Great Northern Insurance Company on claims asserted by Madelaine Chocolate...

Texas Reforms Insurance Litigation – Section 542A of the Texas Insurance Code 60 Days to Get Your House in Order [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

August 14, 2017

Texas has finally enacted statutory reforms specifically designed to combat abusive insurance litigation. Enacted primarily in response to hailstorm lawsuits, the scope of the reforms are much broader. Effective September 1, 2017, Section 542A of the Texas Insurance Code governs all lawsuits arising...

Positive Signs in the Enforcement of Late Notice Provisions [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

July 18, 2017

[caption id="attachment_1499" align="alignright" width="205"] Alice in Wonderland Rabbit[/caption] This year was off to a positive start in the realm of property insurance with a decision out of the Second Circuit upholding an at times embattled policy provision that is found in nearly every...

Depreciation of Labor Costs When Determining Actual Cash Value: Henn v. American Family [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

June 20, 2017

In February, the Nebraska Supreme Court held that it is acceptable for insurance companies to depreciate labor costs when determining the actual cash value (ACV) of damaged property, even when the insurance policy does not define “actual cash value” or “depreciation.” See Henn v. American Family...

Texas Supreme Court Rules on Discoverability of an Insurer’s Attorney’s Fee Bills [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

June 13, 2017

Are an insurer’s attorney’s fee bills discoverable in first party claims?  In In re Nat’l Lloyds Ins. Co., 2017 Tex. LEXIS 522 (Tex. 2017), the Texas Supreme Court considered this question in a hail MDL dispute and answered “No” in a lengthy opinion.  The opinion is the latest development in a...

Three Western Courts Hold Carbon Monoxide Is a Pollutant but Washington Makes New Anti-Insurer Rules

May 02, 2017

Michael D. Handler and Thomas M. Jones discuss three recent rulings that are consistent with the trend of courts around the country concluding carbon monoxide is a pollutant under a liability insurance policy.

Insurer’s Denial of Mitigation Claim for Extra Costs to Prevent Cancellation of Contract Upheld [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

February 10, 2017

Many property insurance policies that provide coverage for business interruption losses also include “extra expense” coverage for reasonable and necessary extra costs to temporarily continue as nearly as possible normal business operations, or to reduce the period of time necessary to resume normal...

California Supreme Court Upholds Replacement Cost Estimate Regulation (For Now) [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

January 27, 2017

In 2011, the California Insurance Commissioner promulgated a regulation governing replacement cost estimates for homeowners insurance (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 10, §2695.183 [the Regulation]). After the trial court and intermediate court of appeal invalidated the Regulation,[1] this week the California...

Virginia Court Dismisses RICO Claim Against WYO Flood Insurer and Its Adjusters [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

January 19, 2017

The preemptive effect of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on overlapping claims asserted by policyholders based on federal and state common law theories of liability is well established. “Numerous courts have held that claims other than those expressly authorized by the [National Flood...

Reservation of Rights Requirements Adopted by South Carolina Supreme Court

January 18, 2017

Tracy L. Eggleston and Patrick M. Aul discuss the South Carolina Supreme Court’s recent decision that adopts strict requirements for effective reservation of rights letters.

Coverage to Rebuild a Foundation to Comply with Changed Building Codes Following a Fire are Subject to Code-Upgrade Endorsement’s Sublimit [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

January 04, 2017

Does the efficient proximate cause rule serve to afford coverage for the additional costs to rebuild the foundation of a home in compliance with changed building code requirements beyond the sublimit of liability of an optional building ordinance or law endorsement?  In an opinion ordered published...

In the Public's Interest [Best's Review]

December 20, 2016

Kenneth Levine, co-chair of the Insurance Corporate & Regulatory Group, discusses the misuse of assignment of benefit provisions in connection with homeowners policies and its potential to create a rise in fraudulent claims and rate increases.

Fifth Circuit Clarifies Claims Handling Quandary: When Does a Cause of Action Accrue? [Global Insurance Alert]

December 07, 2016

Karl A. Schulz discusses the Fifth Circuit's clarification of a typical but potentially tricky question involving property claims in De Jongh v. State Farm Lloyds.

Concurrent Cause Cases: Florida Supreme Court Decides District Split in Favor of Coverage [Global Insurance Alert]

December 06, 2016

J.D. Dickenson and Elizabeth Fata discuss the recent Florida Supreme Court decision in Sebo v, American Home Assurance Company, which favors the Third Districts reasoning and the concurrent cause doctrine in property loss cases.

IN Catastrophes: Preparing for Hurricane Matthew Claims in the Carolinas [IN the Know]

October 17, 2016

Patrick Aul discusses what insurers in both North and South Carolina should be mindful of when handling Hurricane Matthew related claims.

Florida Property Losses – Five Things to Know for Hurricane Matthew

October 07, 2016

Hurricane Matthew is the first major hurricane to strike Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. As the insurance industry prepares for Florida property loss claims due to Hurricane Matthew, we highlight five claims-handling points based on the primary Florida statutory and administrative code provisions most relevant to property insurers with respect to first-party property loss claims, as well as on Florida’s statutory framework for a first-party bad faith claim.

Can Disputes Related To Procurement Of Federal Flood Insurance Policies Be Litigated In State Court? [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

October 06, 2016

It is well-established that claim processing and wrongful denial of coverage disputes involving federal flood insurance policies belong in federal court because they present substantial questions of federal law. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina recently applied this...

Construction Defect: Oregon Supreme Court Strips Wyoming Sawmills Down to the Studs [Global Insurance Alert]

September 28, 2016

Julia A. Molander and William F. Knowles discuss the FountainCourt Homeowners Association v. American Family Mutual Ins. Co. decision holds that eviscerated the seminal case of Wyoming Sawmills v. Transportation Ins. Co.

Claim For Fraudulent Wire Transfer Under Commercial Crime Policy Found to be Covered, Although Denial Not In Bad Faith [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

September 19, 2016

Principle Solutions Group, LLC, an information technology company, lost $1.717 million when it became the victim of a fraud scheme for which it sought coverage under the terms of a commercial crime policy issued by Ironshore Indemnity, Inc. The policy provided coverage for “Computer and Funds...

“Context Matters” – Tenth Circuit Holds Mudslide Not an Explosion Under Property Policy [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

September 07, 2016

On August 29, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a Colorado district court ruling that the sudden obliteration of a building in a 2013 mudslide did not constitute an “explosion” under a commercial property policy. Accordingly, coverage for the loss was barred under the...

Consequential Damage Caused by Subcontractor’s Faulty Work is Covered under Developer’s CGL Policy [Global Insurance Alert]

August 09, 2016

On August 4, 2016, the New Jersey Supreme Court joined a long list of states’ high courts when it affirmed a ruling that consequential damages resulting from a subcontractor’s faulty work constituted “property damage” caused by an “occurrence” under the property developer/general contractor’s commercial general liability policies.

Forgery May Not Constitute “Theft” Under an Employee Dishonesty Coverage [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

August 08, 2016

Ruling in favor of the insurer on a motion for summary judgment, on July 29, 2016 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that under the terms of a commercial crime policy, proof of a forgery by the insured’s employee in extending $90 million of credit to a customer did not establish an unlawful...

Summary Judgment May Be Appropriate When Insured Fails to Take Reasonable Measures to Prevent Property Damage [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

August 04, 2016

Many first party property insurance policies exclude claims for water damage that occurs when the insured premises is left vacant or unoccupied, unless the insured has used reasonable care to prevent such losses. In litigation challenging the denial of such claims, whether or not the insured’s...

Workmanship and Earth Movement Exclusions Preclude Coverage for Collapse As a Matter of Law [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

July 29, 2016

A U.S. federal district court recently granted Peerless Insurance’s summary judgment motion, concluding that, as a matter of law, under Virginia law, a property policy insuring a building under renovation would not provide coverage for a collapsed basement wall due to a subcontractor’s lack of...

Unanimous Washington Supreme Court: No Coverage for Water Damage to Vacant Building [Global Insurance Alert]

June 13, 2016

Melissa O’Loughlin White discusses a unanimous decision by the Washington Supreme Court that rejected the policyholder’s arguments that certain provisions in a “Vacancy or Unoccupancy” endorsement were ambiguous and must be construed in favor of coverage.

Loss at Separate Buildings Required “Building Specific” Coverage Decision Before Loss Appraisal [In the Know]

April 20, 2016

Rick Mackowsky and Stacey Farrell discuss a recent case wherein the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida applied Florida law and denied the insured’s motion for summary judgment seeking to compel appraisal of losses sustained at two of her insured buildings.

Common Sense Prevails: State of Collapse Nonexistent 13 Years before Discovery of Decay [Global Insurance Newsletter]

April 18, 2016

Craig H. Bennion discusses property insurance policies that exclude rot damage that have been called upon to cover rot because the policies extend coverage to collapse — an undefined term — caused by hidden decay, even if the structure remains standing and in use.

Minnesota Court Holds That Prejudgment Interest Statute Does Not Apply to Appraisal Awards [In the Know]

April 18, 2016

Rick Mackowsky discusses the Minnesota Court of Appeals' decision that pre-award interest is not recoverable on an appraisal award made pursuant to the terms of an insurance policy, absent an underlying breach of contract or actionable wrongdoing.

Texas Joins Modern Trend of Allowing Loss of Use Damages in Total Loss Situations [In the Know]

April 11, 2016

Ron Tigner and Gregory Hudson discuss the growing trend of jurisdictions no longer recognizing any distinction between the recoverability of loss of use damages between partial and total destruction of personal property.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

20th Anniversary Windstorm Insurance Conference

January 31, 2019 - Orlando, Florida

2018 PLRB Large Loss Conference

November 26, 2018 - Nashville, TN

2017 CLM Annual Conference

March 29, 2017 - Nashville, TN

2016 PLRB Large Loss Conference

October 04, 2016 - Chicago, IL

Builders Risk Webinar – Part 2

September 16, 2015 - Webinar

Builders Risk Webinar – Part 1

May 06, 2015 - Webinar

2015 National Property Insurance Seminar

April 23, 2015 - New York, NY

2014 National Property Insurance Seminar

April 17, 2014 - New York, NY

National Property Insurance Seminar

June 20, 2013 - New York, NY

In The News

The Biggest Property & Casualty Insurance Decisions Of 2018

December 14, 2018

Stephen Pate, a member in the firm Global Insurance Department, was quoted in Law360's feature "The Biggest Property & Casualty Insurance Decisions of 2018."

Post-Harvey Coverage Suits Fall, But Causation Rows Linger [Law360]

August 20, 2018

Stephen Pate, of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance department, was quoted in an article for Law360 discussing coverage suits following Hurrican Harvey.

Marijuana Insurers in Holding Pattern After Sessions Memo [Business Insurance]

April 17, 2018

Stephen Pate, of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance department, was quoted in the Business Insurance article, Marijuana Insurers in Holding Patter After Sessions Memo.

Attorney says 7th Circuit Ruling in Exploding Grain Bin Case Could Narrow Property Damage Coverage [Cook County Record]

March 01, 2018

Melissa Brill, of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance department, was quoted in an article titled, "Attorney says 7th Circuit Ruling in Exploding Grain Bin Case Could Narrow Property Damage Coverage" which appeared in the Cook County Record.

Insurance Policies on Marijuana Grows in the Fire Zone [KCBS radio]

October 28, 2017

Stephen Pate, of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance department, interviews with KCBS radio about insurance policies on marijuana grows in the fire zone.

Texas Insurance Law Unlikely to Impact Harvey Victims [Bloomberg]

September 01, 2017

Stephen Pate, of Cozen O’Connor's Global Insurance Department, speaks with June Grosso on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law” about Texas House Bill 1774 that went into effect September 1, 2017.

Insurers Could Dodge Harvey-Related Legal Fights Under Texas Law [Bloomberg]

August 30, 2017

Stephen Pate, of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance Department, was quoted in an article for Bloomberg discussing how insurers could face fewer suits after Harvey due to the Texas House Bill 1774 that was passed earlier this year.

Quick Harvey Claims Offer Little Payoff for Policyholders [Law360]

August 29, 2017

Stephen Pate, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance Department, was quoted in an article for Law360 that discussed how property owners should handle damages caused by Hurricane Harvey.

100 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers Named to the Best Lawyers in America

August 23, 2017

Lawyers were selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition based on a rigorous peer-review that has been developed and defined for more than 30 years.

Texas Ruling Could Mean Bigger Paydays For Policyholders

April 11, 2017

Stephen Pate discusses the recent Texas Supreme Court decision that restored protections for policyholders by putting teeth back into statutory provisions that penalize carriers for deceptive practices in an opinion insurance lawyers say is one of the most important in recent history.

Montana Supreme Court Rules Boulder Crash into Home is Considered a Landslide

August 15, 2016

Craig Bennion of the Global Insurance Department is quoted in LegalNewsLine discussing the July 19th ruling by the Montana Supreme Court that a boulder that thundered down a hillside and crashed into a house was to be considered a landslide for insurance purposes.