DECEMBER 2014 BAD FAITH CASES: COURT AFFIRMS TRIAL COURT’S DECISION TO VOID THE POLICY, BUT REMANDS FOR TRIAL ON STATE OF MIND ISSUE FOR INSURER’S CAUSE OF ACTION UNDER NEW JERSEY’S INSURANCE FRAUD PREVENTION ACT (New Jersey Appellate Division)

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In Continental Casualty Co. v.  Hochschild, an insured sought coverage for damage to his boat, and the insurer claimed that no coverage was due because of misrepresentations in the insurance application.  The Appellate Division found that the policy was to be voided on the basis of equitable fraud, and affirmed the trial court’s decision to void the policy solely on that basis.

It vacated the trial court’s finding that the insured violated New Jersey’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA), because a trial was required to address the factual issues concerning that claim.  The appellate court was specifically concerned about the “stringent state-of-mind requirements that an insurer must prove to obtain affirmative relief under the IFPA”, and directed that the trial “shall focus on whether the insured ‘knowingly’ made false or misleading statements to the insurer, as required by” the IFPA.

Date of Decision:  November 20, 2014

Cont’l Cas. Co. v. Hochschild, DOCKET NO. A-2267-13T1, SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY, 2014 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2753 (App. Div. September 22, 2014) (Sabatino and Guadagno, JJ.)

 

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