On Friday, May 6, 2011, the Louisiana Supreme Court, in the per curiam decision of Johnson v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, 11-0476 (La. 5/6/2011), resolved a conflict between the Louisiana courts of appeal as to whether the “mailing or delivery” provision contained in La. R.S. 22:1335 (formerly La. R.S. 22:636.6) requires a notice of nonrenewal of a homeowner’s insurance policy to be mailed to the insured at the address shown in the policy, or whether the notice of nonrenewal must be actually delivered to the policy holder in order to be effective. Louisiana Revised Statute 22:1335, Homeowner’s insurance; cancellation, nonrenewal, provides in pertinent part:
A. An insurer that has issued a policy of homeowner’s insurance shall not fail to renew the policy unless it has mailed or delivered to the named insured, at the address shown in the policy, written notice of its intention not to renew. The notice of nonrenewal shall be mailed or delivered at least thirty days before the expiration date of the policy. If the notice is mailed less than thirty days before expiration, coverage shall remain in effect under the terms and conditions until thirty days after the notice is mailed or delivered. Any earned premium for the period of coverage extended beyond the expiration date shall be considered pro rata based upon the rate of the previous year.
B. The notice of nonrenewal shall not be required if the insurer or a company within the same insurance group has offered to issue a renewal policy, or if the named insured has provided written notification to the insurer of the intention of the insured not to renew.
In the Third Circuit, proof of mailing created a prima facie rebuttable presumption that the notice of nonrenewal was delivered to the insured, which presumption could be overcome by proving that notice was not delivered. In the Fourth Circuit, mailing of a notice of nonrenewal was sufficient to comply with the statute.
The Louisiana Supreme Court held that the statute only requires “mailing, not proof of receipt. Any evidence of non-delivery is relevant only as far as it is evidence of non-mailing or improper mailing. *** [T]he fact that the plaintiff did not receive the notice was otherwise irrelevant.”
So, it is crucial that policy holders immediately notify their homeowner’s insurance company of a change in mailing address; especially after a loss that might render mail undeliverable to the address listed in the policy.
This update in Louisiana insurance law is provided as a courtesy by the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury and accident attorneys at Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews.