The plaintiff, a retailer of imported leather goods and merchandise, filed this professional errors and omissions claim against its insurance broker and her agency after a $50,000 theft loss which was not covered under its policy. The defendant insurance broker claimed that she advised the plaintiff that p 7 3 theft coverage was not available for its business and that the policy clearly stated that such coverage was not provided. The plaintiff store owners, a married couple, testified that because they were Iranian immigrants and did not speak or read the English language well, they relied upon the defendant insurance broker to provide adequate insurance for their leather import/retail business. The plaintiffs testified that they asked for the theft coverage and believed that such coverage had been provided until they learned, after a theft loss in excess of $50,000, that theft was not covered under the policy provided by the non-defendant insurance carrier. The defendants introduced the policy at issue which stated on its Declaration Sheet that theft coverage was not provided. The defendant broker testified that she attempted to obtain theft insurance for the plaintiff’s business through various excess and surplus lines, but because the business was new and because of the type of goods sold, such coverage could not be located. The broker said that she informed a representative of the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s corporate representative and the plaintiffs themselves that the theft coverage was not available. An excess lines broker also testified, via deposition transcripts, that the theft coverage sought by the plaintiff’s was not available. The plaintiff called an insurance broker who testified that, following the theft loss, he obtained theft coverage for the plaintiff’s business and that such coverage was available and could have been obtained by the defendant broker. However on cross examination, the defendant pointed out that the application which was the basis of the theft coverage obtained by this witness contained at least five misstatements including, the length of time that the plaintiff had been in business, the character of merchandise sold and the plaintiff’s prior loss history. The defense attorney argued in closing that, because of these misstatements, any theft claim made by the plaintiff under the theft policy eventually obtained, would not have been paid. The jury found for the defendants.
The case(s) cited herein was(were) reprinted with the permission of the publisher Jury Verdict Review Publications, Inc. www.jvra.com
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