Again, Making Misrepresentations On a Policy Application Is a Bad Idea

You’d think people would learn. If you make a misrepresentation on your policy application, bad things usually happen.

Take the case of Michael Dodd, resident of Frankfort, Indiana. Mr. Dodd applied for a homeowner’s policy for a house he would be building and said that his girlfriend would also live in the house with him. Thing is, he had been living in his girlfriend’s house, which had just burned down. Which the new one was going to replace. But Mr. Dodd didn’t include any of that info in his application, so he gets the policy he applied for.

It should come as no surprise, then, that a few years later, the new house catches on fire. The insurer finds out about the other fire and denies coverage, arguing the policy was void ab initio. The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed that the insured made material misrepresentations, but disagreed that the policy was void at the outset. Instead, it was voidable at the insurer’s option, which requires a timely return of premiums paid. Since the record wasn’t clear on that point, it remanded the case for further proceedings.

In any event, the lesson here is clear and one that should oft-repeated: If in doubt, write it out. A disclosure that is.  (OK, so I’m not a great jingle writer…)

About Brian Jones

I represent clients in all aspects of business litigation, but focus my practice on complex litigation and arbitration matters concerning insurance and reinsurance, antitrust, class actions, securities, real estate disputes, and contract matters. I am the co-chair of the Bose McKinney & Evans Insurance Group. I was listed in the 2017 and 2016 "Best Lawyers in America" for Insurance Coverage and named a "Rising Star" in Insurance Coverage by Super Lawyers in Indiana in 2014. I was also named a "Rising Star" in Business Litigation by Super Lawyers in Indiana in 2013 and 2012, and a 2010 “Rising Star” in Business Litigation in Texas. I am a member of the State Bars of Indiana and Texas, the Defense Research Institute, a former member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, and I am licensed to practice before all state courts in Indiana and Texas, as well as all federal courts in Indiana, the Northern, Western, and Southern Districts of Texas, the Northern District of Illinois, and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits. I received my bachelor’s degree, cum laude, in political science and my master’s degree in teaching from Trinity University, where I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. I received my doctor of jurisprudence degree from the University of Texas School of Law, where I was the Director of Communications for the Legal Research Board and a member of the Phi Delta Phi Honor Society. Before attending law school, I taught high school geography, government and economics in San Antonio, Texas.
This entry was posted in Homeowners, Misrepresentations and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Again, Making Misrepresentations On a Policy Application Is a Bad Idea

  1. Pingback: Indiana Supreme Court: Seriously, Don’t Lie on Your Policy Application | Bose Insurance Blog

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