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Gary Richardson v. Pennsylvania Insurance Department

September 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Anne E. Covey, Judge

Submitted: August 10, 2012




Gary Richardson (Richardson), pro se, petitions for review of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department Commissioner's (Department) March 17, 2011 adjudication and order affirming the Insurance Placement Facility of Pennsylvania's (Fair Plan) cancellation of Richardson's insurance policy pursuant to The Pennsylvania Fair Plan Act (Fair Plan Act).*fn1 There are three issues before this Court:

(1) whether Richardson's appeal should be quashed because his amended brief fails to comply with the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure; (2) whether the Department erred by finding that Fair Plan properly cancelled Richardson's provisional property insurance coverage; and (3) whether Richardson's civil rights were violated by the Department's failure to accept all of his evidence. We affirm.

On August 4, 2010, Richardson applied to Fair Plan for insurance of his residence located at 24212 North Center Road, Springboro, Crawford County, Pennsylvania.*fn2 On the application, Richardson denied that there was "any existing property damage." Notes of Testimony, February 11, 2011 (N.T.), Ex. F-1 at 2. On August 11, 2010, Fair Plan issued Richardson a property insurance policy, accompanied by a notice that stated, in pertinent part:

This policy is marked 'provisional,' which means this property will be scheduled for an interior inspection. The inspection is part of our loss control efforts and to ensure that your policy is properly rated.

In the next week or so, the inspector will attempt to contact you to arrange a convenient time . . . to inspect the property. . . .

If any hazards are found during the inspection, it may result in this policy costing more. You can prevent or eliminate any additional charges or cancellation of the policy, if the hazards are corrected and we are notified. A reinspection may be necessary.

N.T., Ex. F-2 at 1.

Richardson's property was inspected on August 25, 2010. In the inspection report, the inspector marked, "Other Hazardous Conditions," and commented, "[Richardson] is doing work on [an] as he goes basis. . . . Rear porch area is collapsing and he plans to repair it soon." N.T., Ex. F-3 at 2. On September 22, 2010, Fair Plan issued a notice of declination, which stated:

The Fair Plan cannot continue to provide coverage for this property unless the following is corrected: 1-Rear Porch Roof Collapsed

The Fair Plan will mail notice of cancellation for this policy unless the conditions mentioned above are corrected and the Fair Plan notified before 10/12/10[.]

Please provide copies of paid bills or other evidence to confirm that the work to correct the conditions has been done.

N.T., Ex. F-5. The notice provided the toll-free telephone number for Fair Plan, in case Richardson had any questions. Because it received no response, on October 22, 2010, Fair Plan issued a notice canceling Richardson's policy effective at 12:01 p.m., November 27, 2010 because "[t]he property does not meet the following underwriting standards -- rear porch roof collapsed." N.T., Ex. F-6.

By November 8, 2010 letter, Richardson requested that his home remain insured because his intended porch repairs were put on hold due to an ongoing criminal investigation.*fn3 By November 15, 2010 letter, Angela Michaels, an investigator for the Department's Bureau of Consumer Services (BCS), notified Fair Plan that BCS received a complaint from Richardson regarding its cancellation of his Fair Plan policy.*fn4 By November 18, 2010 letter, a Fair Plan underwriter notified Ms. Michaels that Fair Plan cancelled the policy because it received no response to its September 22nd notice of declination. In a November 22, 2010 investigative report, Ms. Michaels notified Richardson that BCS reviewed Fair Plan's termination of his policy, and stated:

The cancellation notice was issued because there was no response from you or your broker [to the September 22, 2010 notice of declination] within the allotted time. Our investigation has determined that the company met the requirements of Act 205 and the [Department] therefore finds that your policy may be terminated. Please note that your residential . . . property coverage will terminate on 11/27/10. Therefore, you are encouraged to secure alternative coverage promptly.

N.T., Ex. F-9 at 1-2. By letter faxed to Ms. Michaels on December 3, 2010, Richardson requested a hearing regarding his policy cancellation. On December 24, 2010, Richardson's home was destroyed by fire that was unrelated to the porch's condition. Richardson subsequently submitted a complaint form*fn5 to the Department related to Fair Plan's cancellation of his policy, stating:

I was in contact with Angela Michaels and [Fair Plan representative] Paul Smolinski at the Fair Plan re reinstatement of my policy. I spoke to them on many occasions in November and December. I faxed a letter requesting an extension/reinstatement on Dec 1, 2010. Mr. Smolinski told me that he will check with claims and get back to me. I never heard from him. I called back and left voice mail with no response. Subsequently on 12/24/2010 my house burned to the ground.

N.T., Ex. R-7.

Following a hearing at which Richardson and Mr. Smolinski testified, the Department affirmed Fair Plan's termination of Richardson's policy on the basis that it was cancelled in accordance with the Fair Plan Act and Fair Plan's rules and procedures. Richardson requested reconsideration, which the ...

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