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Court affirms judgment in favor of insurer over fire damages

August 26, 2014

An insurer was entitled to summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by a couple who claimed the policy limits did not fully compensate them after a fire destroyed their home.

In Daryl Schweitzer and Lynn Schweitzer v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company and Jennifer Gholson Insurance Agency, 45A03-1307-CT-248, the Indiana Court of Appeals Tuesday affirmed summary judgment for defendants who provided total payments of $326,040 after a fire in December 2009.

The Schweitzers argued their losses substantially exceeded the policy limit, that American Family had acted in bad faith, and that they should have been beneficiaries of a practice requiring agents to write policies for full replacement value.

But Jennifer Gholson, the independent agent, argued she made no representation that the policy provided full replacement value and that under Myers v. Yoder, 921 N.E.2d 880 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), the court rejected the notion that a general duty of care requires insurance agents to perform a replacement-cost estimate before issuing policies.

In this case, the court found a special relationship did not exist between Gholson and the Schweitzers and that the policy had been taken out less than a year before the fire.

"Based upon the designated evidence," Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the panel, "we find the Schweitzers are not entitled to additional payments under their homeowners insurance policy and that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment.”
 

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