Fire insurance policies were just addressed by NY’s highest Court. Real estate agents should get familiar with these policies because value-add agents are successful agents, particularly in the commercial setting where fires often spur relocations and the availability of multiple brokerage commissions.
In the case before the Court, the insurance company disclaimed coverage because its policy had a time limit for claims, but required that the cost of replacement be known in order to recover for a loss. However, the cost wasn't known until construction was complete, which didn't happen until after the time limit for the claim. Hence the predicament for the insured building owner.
Specifically, in Executive Plaza LLC v. Peerless Insurance Company, it took the building owner over 3 years to renovate over one million dollars in damages to its property, but the policy only gave the owner 2 years to submit its loss.
Great news – the Court ruled that “such a contractual limitation period, applied to a case in which the property cannot reasonably be replaced in two years, is unreasonable and unenforceable.”
So, the policy’s purpose of insurance except where you need it was negated by the Court.
Now, you understand a predicament faced by your commercial building owners and you understand that in NY, insurance companies can no longer play the game of impossibility to avoid paying out a claim. So, go armed with knowledge when you help commercial tenants relocate after a fire and when you help a new building owner with their purchase and getting insurance.