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Clarification of insurer’s burden on defense for material misrepresentations.

February 23, 2009

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In Rafi v. Rutgers Cas. Ins. Co., the insurer declined to pay insured's claim for losses due to material misrepresentations made by the insured. The insured filed a breach of contract action and, following a jury trial, judgment was entered in favor of the insured.
On appeal, New York’s Appellate Division, Fourth Department, ruled that the trial court committed reversible error by charging the jury that the insurer was required to prove that the alleged misrepresentations were intentional. The appellate court held that, if a misrepresentation is material, it can void a policy regardless of the insured’s intent. In order to prevail on a material misrepresentation defense, an insurer is required to submit evidence that it would not have issued the same policy had the correct information been included in the application.
Thanks to Robin Green for her contribution to this post.
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