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Contract Interpretation and World Trade Center



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The scandal document at the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City on September 11, 2001 is responsible for a number of insurance disputes concerning, among other things, the meaning of the term "occurrence" in first party real estate policies and the methodology required by insurers in interpreting an insurance policy. In the WTC policy, "occurrence" was defined as follows:

"Occurrence" refers to any loss or damage that can be directly or indirectly attributed to a cause or to a series of similar causes. All such losses will be added together and the total amount of such losses will be treated as an event regardless of the time or area in which such losses occur.

As WTC insurance issues are surrounded by the terrible facts of the attack, and due to the fact that some insurance policies had not yet been printed and delivered to the insured before 11 September 2001, the decisions taken in interpreting the insurance policies had far-reaching effects. Judgments in WTC cases, combined with a decision by California's Supreme Court, change the way insurance is interpreted. Since policy interpretation is crucial for the production of insurance claims, the following detailed discussion is important for anyone involved in insurance claims.

"Reasonable expectations" does not, however, mean that the insured's expectations can be changed or the clear and unambiguous language of the insurance police changed. The Third Circuit found, Canal Insurance v. Underwriters, against the insured's assertion of reasonable expectations and found that in the context of the case before "the refusal to look beyond the clear meaning of the unambiguous language of exclusion to Singh's reasonable expectations the interpretation of Pennsylvania case law in our circle. ”

For example, a case decided over 200 years ago ruled that the insured's reasonable expectations include the understanding that“ every [insurer] is assumed to be familiar with the profession he insures…. If he does not know it, he should inform himself. ”Similarly, the Supreme Court of the United States in Hazards Administrator v. New England Marine Insurance Co. more than 150 years ago adopted the 33 U.S. 557 (1834) rule. It concluded that "no injustice is done if insurers are assumed to know their insured industry because it is part of their normal business."


© 2021 – Barry Zalma

Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now restricts his practice of working as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance infidelity and insurance fraud almost as much for insurance policyholders.

He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance-related disputes, practicing law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance and claims management attorney and more than 54 years in the insurance industry.

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Available at http://www.zalma.com and zalma@zalma.com Mr. Zalma is the first recipient of the first annual Claims Magazine / ACE Legend Award. For the past 53 years, Barry Zalma has devoted his life to insurance, insurance claims and the need to defeat insurance fraud, creating the following library of books and other materials to enable insurers and their indemnity staff to become professionals in insurance claims.

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