State Farm Voids Homeowners’ Policy For Material Misrepresentation

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OXFORD, April 19 – A federal judge in Mississippi has granted State Farm’s request to void a homeowners insurance policy on grounds the insureds made misrepresentations material to the risk.

U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock of the Northern District of Mississippi voided a policy issued to Cedric Flowers, because he misrepresented his ownership interest in the policy on the coverage application.   On April 19, 2012, Cedric Flowers applied to State Farm for homeowners insurance, after which State Farm issued a policy.  A fire destroyed a portion of the home on June 17, 2012, a fire damaged the house and its contents.

In 2015  State Farm sought to have the policy voided, and  filed a declaratory judgment suit seeking an order voiding the policy was void when issued.  State Farm also sought to void the policy claiming the Flowers violated several policy conditions.  Cedric Flowers counterclaimed for breach of contract, negligence, bad faith and fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation.

Judge Aycock granted State Farm’s motion for summary judgment, holding:

“This Court has held in other cases that ownership is a ‘material fact’ that would influence ‘a prudent insurer in determining whether to accept the risk. . . Therefore, the Court finds that the representation that the Flowers owned the property at the time he applied for this homeowner’s insurance policy is a material misrepresentation under both the objective (prudent insurer) and subjective (particular insurer) standards, and due to this material misrepresentation the policy was void from the beginning. . . [That] the Defendant .  believed, in good faith, that he owned the home at the time he applied for the policy is unavailing because the relevant cases make clear that the fact that a misrepresentation ‘was intentional, negligent, or the result of mistake or oversight is of no consequence.’”

State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. Flowers et al, (N.D. Miss. 2016)

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Author: CJ Haddick

C.J. Haddick is a Director with the law firm of Dickie, McCamey, & Chilcote, PC, based in Pittsburgh, Pa. He has advised and represented insurers in insurance coverage and bad faith litigation for more than a quarter of a century, and written and spoken throughout the United States on insurance coverage and bad faith prevention and litigation. He is Managing Director of the firm's Harrisburg, Pa. office. Reach him at chaddick@dmclaw.com or 717-731-4800.

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