Updates on Insurance Coverage, Construction Defect
and Commercial Auto Law Developments
in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming
Greetings fromEvans & Co. Counselors and Litigators, with another Case Notesseries. We write this month with updates on insurance, construction defect, and commercial auto law in the states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
Past Case Notes are archived at evanslawfirm.com and we would be pleased to bring current the decisions on which we've reported previously, at your request.
The Colorado Supreme Court has given extensive consideration to the recurring question of what rights a Certificate of Insurance bestows upon the certificate holder – specifically here, whether notice of cancellation to the certificate holder is required. Much ink has been spilled trying to get Certificates to be stand-ins for insurance policies, and as is usually the outcome, the Certificate here did not grant rights beyond the plain language of the Certificate or of the policies which it referenced.
A second Supreme Court case examines the conditions under which an insurance policy may be deemed ambiguous, and what evidence that can, and cannot be received to show ambiguity. This case is a thoughtful summary of the state of ambiguity law in Colorado and the summary deserves close reading.
We offer summaries of Colorado Court of Appeals decisions on the intersection between subrogation actions and fair debt collection practices, and on whether late notice of claim can void coverage in the absence of prejudice to the insurer.
A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, applying Colorado law, teases out the cause of a loss which might have been a mudslide (not covered) or an explosion (covered). Losses with putative multiple causes can take guidance from the analytical methods of this decision.
Turning to Utah law, the Court of Appeals interprets a homeowners property policy to exclude damages from water intrusion, entering through an uncompleted roof. A sudden and severe rainstorm occurred during re-roofing operations conducted by the insured. One is hard pressed to think of how the homeowner could have insured this exposure, which perhaps is a vote for hiring a roofer.
In a case with dramatic facts – a rockfall of a thousand feet sending boulders rolling through a home and garage, killing the occupant owners – the United States District Court for the District of Utah upheld the earth movement exclusion to the property policy, denying the mortgagee anything beyond the rubble that remained.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, applying Wyoming law, interprets aspects of the Wyoming Oilfield Anti-Indemnity statute, which prevents indemnity in certain oilfield related contracts. The statute does not, however, reach, or prevent, insurance arrangements which achieve much if not all of what a prohibited indemnity agreement would otherwise achieve. We suspect the Wyoming legislature will look to strengthen their statute and bring it in line with the wordings of other states which do prevent insurance arrangements which avoid the statute’s purposes.
Clickherefor our Case Notes for all three states. (21 pages)