Ha v. Nationwide

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Opinion Filed August 14, 2020
Attorney for the Case John Kirby
Amicus Brief Writers Erwin Byrd
Court NC Supreme Court
Docket No. 312A19

Plaintiffs, who had recently contracted and paid for homeowners’ insurance, lost their home to a fire.  The homeowners called their insurer, Nationwide, and were notified for the first time that their insurance policy had been cancelled two months prior.  At trial, Nationwide argued that mailing the cancellation notice via regular mail satisfied N.C.G.S. § 58-41-15(c), which requires the insurance company to “furnish” notice of cancellation of insurance policies in existence for sixty days or fewer.  The trial court agreed, but the Court of Appeals determined that the Legislature, with N.C.G.S. § 58-41-15(c), intended to require the insurance company to prove delivery, rather than mere mailing, of the cancellation notice.

The amicus brief states that Nationwide and its amicus could not argue for the first time before the Supreme Court that N.C.G.S.  § 58-41-15(c) does not apply to plaintiffs’ policy, particularly since that argument conflicts with defendant’s stance throughout the litigation.  The amicus brief also argued that the term “furnish” creates a higher standard of notification than regular mail, and that the statute should be read liberally in favor of coverage, in light of its purpose and the public policy in favor of notifying newly insureds that their homeowners’ policy will be cancelled.