Attention to Detail Helps Universal Property Avoid Exposure in Expensive Residential Mishap
Joseph Suarez, Esq., partner in the Miami office, successfully defended against Petitioner’s declaratory judgment action seeking a determination of coverage under her homeowner’s insurance policy relating to damage to her tile floor.
Petitioner claimed that she dropped a cooking appliance the day after the inception of the policy, which caused damage to one floor tile. The first notice of the claim was more than three years after the alleged date of loss.
The claim was ultimately denied based on the fact that the loss was untimely reported and because it was excluded under the policy. Petitioner filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the issue of coverage, whereby we filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment based on the policy exclusion and the late notice affirmative defense.
The hearing on the competing Motions took place before Judge Spencer Eig on January 7, 2013. At that time, it was argued that the reporting of the loss more than three years after the date of loss should be considered late notice as a matter of law and that the the late notice automatically created a presumption of prejudice to Universal.
It was also argued that the policy exclusion relied upon specifically excluded the loss and that the alleged loss could not be considered a direct physical loss to the property given the condition of the tile floor.
Petitioner submitted a self-serving, conclusory affidavit in opposition to Universal’s Motion, which was argued to be insufficient to create an issue of fact, especially in light of the Petitioner’s deposition testimony.
The Court initially denied the Petitioner’s Motion for Summary Judgment and allowed additional argument on the late notice defense. The Court agreed that the Petitioner did not comply with the notice provision in the policy and that Petitioner did not submit enough summary judgment evidence to create an issue of fact on the prejudice issue.
Final summary judgment was then granted in favor of Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company on its late notice affirmative defense.