MARCH 2017 BAD FAITH CASES: STATUTORY BAD FAITH CLAIMS CANNOT BE BROUGHT AGAINST ADJUSTERS; ISSUING PAYMENT CHECK PER POLICY LANGUAGE CANNOT BE BAD FAITH (Pennsylvania Superior Court)

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This case involved coverage for a fire loss on a property where a father and daughter were named insureds. Suit was brought solely by the daughter and her husband, with the father, the insurer, and the claim adjuster named as defendants. The insurer’s loss payment check was issued to both the father and daughter. The daughter and her husband included in their bad faith claims that the insurer intended to wrongly pay 100% of the proceeds to the father; and that there was a conspiracy to this effect among the insurer, the claim adjuster and the father.

On the bad faith issues addressed by the court, the insureds had brought bad faith claims against the adjuster, as well as their insurer. The Superior Court held that statutory bad faith claims can only be made against insurers, and dismissed the claim against the adjuster.

The daughter and her husband also brought a bad faith claim over the manner in which the insurance company issued its check to the insureds, with both the father and daughter on the same check. However, this payment was made consistently with the policy language. The insurer instructed the daughter to have her father (both named insureds) give written consent to the issuance of two separate reimbursement checks, and the insurer was even willing to interplead the funds into court so the father and daughter could determine their entitlement to the funds.

However, the daughter and her husband did not proceed on either option, and “[a]s a result, the check could only issue in both [the daughter’s and father’s] names.” Thus, there was no bad faith in issuing one check, in the name of both the father and daughter.

Date of Decision:  March 10, 2017

Brown v. Everett Cash Mut. Ins. Co., No. 1549 WDA 2015, 2017 Pa. Super. LEXIS 161 (Pa. Super. Ct. Mar. 10, 2017) (Lazarus, Solano, Strassburger, JJ.)

 

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