Friday, October 1, 2010

Different Standards For Cancellations of Homeowner's Insurance Policies and Automobile Insurance Policies

In a September 10, 2010 decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that proper cancellation of a homeowner's insurance policy, by statute, requires that the carrier establish actual receipt of the notice of cancellation by the insured.

In the case of Nationwide v. Insurance Department, No. 411 C.D. 2010, 2010 WL 3516455 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2010 Leadbetter, P.J., Leavitt, J., Kelley, S.J.)(Opinion by Kelley, S.J.), the court ruled that the cancellation of the homeowner's policy in this case, for non-payment of a premium, was not effective when the notice of cancellation was mailed to the last known address of the insured and the notice was returned to the carrier as undeliverable.

Here is a link to the Nationwide decision online:

This is to be contrasted with the context of cancellation of automobile insurance policies. It has also been repeatedly held that it is not necessary in automobile insurance cases for a carrier to show that the required notice of cancellation was actually received by the policy holder; all that is required is a showing that such cancellation notice was sent. See 40 Pa. C.S.A. §991.2006; Caine v. Commonwealth, Department of Transportation, 811 A.2d 38 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002); Beitler v. Commonwealth, Department of Transportation, 811 A.2d 30 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002); Lewis v. Insurance Department, 935 A.2d 36 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007).

It has additionally been held in the auto policy context that any mere denial by any party that written notice concerning a cancellation of an automobile insurance policy was received in the mail is not sufficient to overcome the presumption that the notice was indeed received. Nationwide Insurance Company v. Pennsylvania Insurance Department, 779 A.2d 14 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2001).

I recently prevailed in securing a declaratory judgment that an auto policy was properly cancelled for non-payment of a premium in the Schuylkill County case of Safe Auto v. Soto. Anyone desiring to see the Complaint, Motion For Summary Judgment, Brief, and Court Opinion from that 2010 case may contact me at

(Of course, past successes do not guarantee that similar results will be secured in future cases--each case must be handled on its own merits.).

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