Insurance policy’s one-year limitation period voided

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.’s claim that if it’s one-year limitation on bringing an action against the insurer is unenforceable then the court should find a two-year limitation period applies based on Indiana statute.

In State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. Riddell National Bank, 61A01-1204-PL-159, Riddell National Bank sought to file a claim in December 2009 with State Farm after discovering extensive damage in June 2009 to a home previously owned by a couple who held a mortgage through the bank. The couple executed a deed in lieu of foreclosure to Riddell in November 2009 after moving out of the property in August 2008. State Farm denied the claim and Riddell brought suit in September 2011.

State Farm moved to dismiss because Riddell’s claim was time barred based on the policy issued to the couple in 2009 that said: “No action shall be brought unless there has been compliance with the policy provisions. The action must be started within one year after the date of loss or damage.” The trial court denied its motion to dismiss.

The Court of Appeals found, and the insurer conceded, that the parties’ policy requiring an action brought within one year is unenforceable pursuant to Indiana Code 27-1-13-17(b). That statute says an insurance policy may not limit the right to bring an action against an insurer to a period of less than two years from the date of loss.

State Farm argued then that the two-year limitation period mentioned in the statute should apply. But I.C. 27-1-13-17 does not provide a two-year default statute of limitations, Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote.

“It merely provides that an insurance policy requiring the filing of a claim in a time period less than two years is void. Indiana Code section 34-11-2-11, on the other hand, does provide a default statute of limitations period, and pursuant to the conformity with state law term in the policy, that default applies to the parties,” she continued, pointing out that statute provides a 10-year statute of limitations.

Under the 10-year statute of limitations, the bank’s claim was timely.  



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