Property Insurance

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California High Court Holds That Notice-Prejudice Rule May Override Choice of Law Clause

Dina Richman discusses the Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company decision and how it impacts enforcement of choice of law provisions when it comes to notice-prejudice and consent clause issues.


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 30 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.




First Appellate Ruling Holds COVID-19 Business Losses Are Not Physical Loss or Damage [Alert]

July 06, 2021

Alycen A. Moss and Elliot Kerzner discuss the Eighth Circuit's decision in Oral Surgeons, P.C. v. The Cincinnati Insurance Company.

Protests, Riots Raise Questions of Civil Authority Coverage [Best's Review]

March 05, 2021

Alycen Moss and Elliot Kerzner published an article in Best's Review titled, "Protests, Riots Raise Questions of Civil Authority Coverage" discussing property damage from the riots following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

Hurricane Laura: What Can Insurers Expect with Claims in Texas and Louisiana? [Alert]

September 02, 2020

Joseph A. Ziemianski, Melissa Brill, Alycen A. Moss, Stephen P. Pate, and Paul C. Ferland discuss what insurers can expect based on prior hurricanes.

Texas Supreme Court Reinforces the Eight Corners Rule, Or Does It? [Alert]

March 25, 2020

Alissa Christopher and Greg Hudson discuss Richards v. State Farm Lloyds and whether the absence of a clause requiring a carrier to defend claims that are “groundless, false or fraudulent” means that the “eight-corners” rule does not apply when determining the existence of a duty to defend.

Property Insurance Coverage Issues Associated with COVID-19 [Alert]

March 16, 2020

Joe Ziemianski, Melissa Brill, Alycen Moss, Stephen Pate, and Paul Ferland discuss how courts have analyzed and applied first-party property policies for these types of non-physical losses, potential coverage under a civil authority provision, and pollution/contamination exclusions.

New York Ruling Could Significantly Impact Disclosure of Communications Between Insurer and Counsel [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

October 29, 2019

A recent decision from one of New York’s trial courts of general jurisdiction could have a chilling effect on written communications between an insurer and its retained counsel during a claim investigation.  In Otsuka America, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Co., 2019 WL 4131024,...

New Texas Laws Take Aim at Common Practice in Storm-Related Repairs [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

October 22, 2019

Texas policyholders can no longer cut deals with storm repair contractors to pocket their deductibles for storm repairs.  The Texas Legislature has amended the Texas Insurance Code and Texas Business & Commerce Code, targeting construction companies that offer “free roofs” and “waived...

Failure of Insured to Provide Requested Documents Triggers Appraisal Under First Party Insurance Policy [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

October 14, 2019

Those familiar with first party insurance policies have undoubtedly encountered a recurring issue with the interpretation of appraisal provisions – what does it mean to disagree on the amount of loss?  In Valvano Realty Co. v. American Fire and Casualty Co., the United States District Court for the...

California High Court Holds That Notice-Prejudice Rule May Override Choice of Law Clause

September 03, 2019

Dina Richman discusses the Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company decision and how it impacts enforcement of choice of law provisions when it comes to notice-prejudice and consent clause issues.

Insured Made Whole After Subrogation Recovery [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

July 10, 2019

A property insurer, having paid for covered damage, can recover the loss by seeking reimbursement from its insured where the insured has recovered funds from a responsible third-party, or the insurer may pursue a claim directly against the third-party.  If the insurer makes a direct claim against...

Pennsylanvia Supremes to Decide Whether Actual Cash Value Includes General Contractor Overhead and Profit [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

July 01, 2019

Insurance companies may no longer be allowed to rely on clear policy language that expressly excludes general contractor overhead and profit (“GCOP”) from actual cash value payments.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently agreed to hear argument on the issue in Kurach v. Truck Insurance Exchange,...

Key Questions to Consider in Light of Operation Rubicon’s Investigation into Insurance Fraud in South Florida [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

June 13, 2019

Law enforcement in Miami-Dade County, Florida recently arrested nine individuals described by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis as the “ringleaders of an elaborate fraud scheme” led by Barbara Maria Diaz de Villegas,[1] owner of the public adjusting company The Rubicon Group.[2]  The...

Free Ride on RCV? Not So Fast! [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

May 29, 2019

Most property insurance policies condition the payment of replacement cost value (RCV) on the property first being replaced or repaired, and courts typically enforce that requirement.  Replacement cost is not owed until the insured completes repair or replacement.  Yet what property adjuster has...

Texas Federal Court Holds that Named Storm Deductible Applies Even in the Absence of Wind Damage [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

May 20, 2019

Judge Nancy Atlas of the Southern District of Texas cut through competing arguments to resolve a high-profile dispute involving a Hurricane Harvey claim through Contract Interpretation 101. Lexington Insurance Company issued a policy to Pan Am Equities, Inc. (Pan Am) covering a property...

Collapse Coverage: Second Circuit Holds That Cracking Walls Do Not Constitute “Collapse” [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

May 06, 2019

Most homeowners’ policies – and property insurance policies in general – contain a limited coverage extension for “collapse.”  The interpretation of that collapse coverage has been litigated around the country for decades, with different jurisdictions reaching considerably different results.  The...

Florida’s “Assignment of Benefits” Bill: A Guide Through the New Statutory Framework [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

April 26, 2019

This week, after 7 years of failed efforts, the Florida Legislature passed a meaningful Assignment of Benefits (“AOB”) reform bill.  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced yesterday that he would sign the legislation designed to cut back on abusive AOBs, a practice that has plagued the...

Eleventh Circuit Holds Attorneys’ Fees Are Not Warranted Where Policyholder Filed Suit Instead of Undergoing Appraisal [Property Insurance Law Observer Blog]

April 23, 2019

The Eleventh Circuit, in J.P.F.D. Investment Corp. v. United Specialty Insurance Co., recently affirmed a district court’s denial of statutory attorneys’ fees to a policyholder that, to resolve a disagreement over the amount of loss, filed suit against its insurer instead of participating in...

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...

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.

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.

In The News

More Than 205 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named Best Lawyers and Ones to Watch By The Best Lawyers In America

August 19, 2021

Best Lawyers selected 210 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 23 of the firm’s nationwide offices for inclusion in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Alycen Moss Named the 2021 Recipient of the FDCC’s John Appleman Award

August 10, 2021

Cozen O’Connor is pleased to announce that Alycen Moss, member of the Global Insurance Department and co-chair of the firm’s Property Insurance Group, has been named the 2021 recipient of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel’s John Appleman Award.

Four Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Recognized as 2020 Texas Super Lawyers

September 24, 2020

Cozen O’Connor attorneys David L. Barron, Stephen P. Pate, A. Martin Wickliff, Jr., and Joseph A. Ziemianski were named 2020 Texas Super Lawyers.

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.


Stephen P. Pate

Co-Chair, Property Insurance Group

(832) 214-3957

Alycen A. Moss

Co-Chair, Property Insurance Group

(404) 572-2052


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Property Insurance Law Observer

Covering first-party decisions and developments.

Avoiding Insurance Bad Faith

Covering state and federal bad faith decisions and practices impacting insurers.

Cyber Law Monitor

Following current trends in cyber, privacy, and data security law.

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