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Webinar Recap: The Policy Introduction: So Much More Than You Think (Words Matter – Part 1)

By June 13, 2023July 24th, 2023No Comments

On June 2, 2023, Wheeler, DiUlio & Barnabei launched a new lunch & learn webinar series entitled Words Matter. The Words Matter series explores homeowner policies, interpretations, and examples to help viewers understand what they cover and don’t cover.

In Part 1, The Policy Introduction: So Much More Than You Think, Partner Anthony DiUlio discussed policy language, the importance of Declaration Pages, and how to use definitions against the carrier. Additionally, he spoke about what it really means to provide insurance coverage.

While he covered policy language in-depth, it’s important to remember that every policy is different. It is essential that you read each policy for the most accurate information and guidelines.

Why Are Declaration Pages Important?

Declaration pages provide a copious amount of information that could help when filing claims or rebutting with the carrier. Declaration pages typically contain the following:

  • The name of the insured
  • Mailing address
  • Insured address
  • Limits
  • Forms
  • Potentially conflicting information
  • Deductible information

Declaration Pages are usually longer than one page, so be sure to read this part of the policy in its entirety.

In addition to the Declaration pages, there are several other aspects of the insurance policy that should be read:

  1. The table of contents is important for identifying sections that the reader may not have known existed.
  2. A general conditions section can give the insured supplemental language that can be used in letters to add value to the claim.
  3. A definitions section or glossary can also provide the insured with critical verbiage that can be used against the carrier.

What Does Providing Insurance Coverage Mean? How Can I Use Definitions Against the Carrier?

Insurance coverage information is often found deep in the policy. It’s often way past the definitions, additional coverages, and “what is covered” sections. There are typically two concepts for insurance coverage:

  1. All Risk
  2. Named Peril

All Risk

All Risk covers any damages not specifically excluded throughout the policy. It is important to note that not every All Risk policy is created equal. A common misconception is that all damage must be “sudden and accidental direct physical loss”. However, this is not always the case.

For example, take Allstate and State Farm’s coverage policy language. Allstate says, “We will cover sudden and accidental direct physical loss to property described in Dwelling Protection-Coverage A and Other Structures Protection-Coverage B except as limited or excluded in this policy.” Here, “sudden and accidental direct physical loss” is explicitly stated in the policy.

On the other hand, State Farm says, “We will pay for accidental direct physical loss to the property…”. If State Farm said to the insured that they found “no evidence of sudden or accidental loss”, you can rebut the claim as the policy does not account for “sudden loss”. The policy only accounts for “accidental direct physical loss.” This is a great example of how reading your insurance company’s policy can help you use their language against them.

Named Peril

The second concept is Named Peril. Many of these policies will have similar language in concept to All Risk, but Named Peril concepts add additional verbiage limiting the coverage to a certain list of events.

For example, State Farm’s auto policy says, “We insure for direct physical loss to the property covered caused by a peril listed below unless the loss is excluded in the General Exclusions”. The reference to the “General Exclusions” page is the additional language limiting coverage.

By understanding terms like All Risk and Named Peril, you can better comprehend how to read and interpret homeowners policies. Additionally, understanding their meaning and that it can change from policy to policy will give you a better opportunity to use definitions aginst the carrier if need be.

Have more questions about policy language? Contact the experts at Wheeler, DiUlio & Barnabei today to learn more.