Even though the court found that coverage was voided under the policy, it affirmed the denial of summary judgment to the insurer on a claim that the insurer breached Mass. Gen. Laws chs. 93A and 176D.
The claimant, Gagnon, alleged that the insurer violated those statutes by "failing to acknowledge and act reasonably promptly upon communications with respect to claims arising under insurance policies," in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176D § 3(9)(b). The court held:
[A] court will not find unfair or deceptive acts or practices where there was no inordinate or unreasonable delay, or if there was no resulting prejudice or harm caused by the delay. . . .
On this record, we also cannot say that Gagnon has no reasonable expectation of proving an essential element of her claim at trial.
Thus, we conclude that the trial judge correctly denied summary judgment, leaving the determination of unreasonable delay and resulting prejudice to the fact finder.
When I first read this opinion, I assumed that Gagnon had brought the motion for summary judgment on the 93A/176D count, in which case it would have made common sense to affirm the denial of the motion, since the court had found that the policy did not provide coverage for her claim. Upon rereading the decision, however, it appears that it was the insurer who brought the motion for summary judgment on the 93A/176D claim. If that is so, then the court is saying that an insurer can be liable for breach of 93A and 176D even when there is no coverage under the policy. That is contrary to many opinions which simply dismiss 93A/176D claims after finding no coverage.