Misrepresentation in Property Insurance Application

Perez v. Castlepoint Ins. Co. et al., 2018 N.Y. Slip Op 32668, 2018 WL 5283415 (NY Sup. Ct., Queens Co. October 19, 2018)

This litigation involved a first-party property insurance dispute in which the plaintiff-insureds claimed coverage for damages to their building caused by a fire on October 18, 2015. The insurer, Castlepoint, denied coverage because the application for insurance represented that the insured premises was a one-family dwelling, but when Castlepoint inspected the premises after the fire, it discovered that the premises was in fact a three-family dwelling, which was an unacceptable risk.

Castlepoint moved for summary judgment based on the application and the insureds’ admissions that the premises was not a one-family dwelling. Notably, plaintiff argued that he should not be responsible for the misrepresentation because his broker completed the application without his authority. The trial judge rejected this argument, holding that plaintiff “ratified the representation contained in the application by accepting the policy for a one-family home and permitting it to be renewed for years thereafter on the same terms.”

This decision is relevant because there is only one other first-party property insurance decision in New York that has recognized the principal of ratifying a misrepresentation made by another party as the basis to void an insurance policy.

Castlepoint Insurance Co. was represented by partner Kevin F. Buckley.


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