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INSURANCE LAW: Superior Court holds insured’s willful and misleading statement warranted denial of claim

The plaintiff’s vehicle was allegedly stolen on February 2, 2014 and later located by police and determined to be a total loss.   The plaintiff filed a claim with the defendant, his insurer.  In investigating the claim, the defendant asked plaintiff if he had ever offered to sell the vehicle.  The plaintiff told the investigator he had not and the defendant subsequently denied the claim based on fraud and false swearing.  Plaintiff filed suit.

During deposition, the defendant showed the plaintiff a Craigslist ad posted two weeks prior to the alleged theft, offering the vehicle for sale.  The plaintiff stated that he had never seen the ad and both he and his girlfriend claimed that she had posted the ad as a prank without his knowledge.

The trial court rejected defendant’s claim that the plaintiff had destroyed the vehicle to file an insurance claim, but held that the plaintiff made a material misrepresentation of fact with intent to deceive when he denied offering the vehicle for sale.  Because the plaintiff’s interest in disposing of the vehicle was relevant to the defendant’s investigation, the false statement was material and warranted denial of his insurance claim. 

Roldan v. Safeco Insurance Co. of America, CV14-6017301 (9/13/17)