Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Superior Court rules that insurer is entitled to appraised value of returned painting despite uncertainty over whether it paid the insured that value

In my last post I discussed Apthorp v. OneBeacon Ins. Group, LLC.

Another issue in that case was how much the insurer should be reimbursed once the painting was found. When the painting was stolen other items owned by the insured were also stolen. The insured gave the insurer an appraisal valuing the painting at $25,000. The insured provided an estimated value of $65,000 for other stolen items, and did not provide any estimated or appraised value for other items. The insurer paid the coverage limit of $32,500.

Judge Garsh rejected the insured's argument that the insurer paid half of the value of all the items, and therefore it paid $12,500 for the painting and should be reimbursed only that amount. She wrote that the insured "ignore[s] that the schedule of items sent to the adjuster had numerous items with no estimated values, making the insured's loss greater than $65,000 if her estimates were accepted. The aggregate loss may actually have been less or more than $65,000." She held that it would be speculative to assign a dollar value to each one of the items stolen, so that an accurate percentage of the insurer's payment attributable to the painting could not be fixed. She therefore deemed that the insurer paid $25,000 for the loss of the painting.

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