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Gwin v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

August 23, 2017

BRANDON GWIN AND AIMEE GWIN
v.
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL.

          KAREN L. HAYES MAG. JUDGE

          RULING

          ROBERT G. JAMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a dispute over homeowner's property insurance benefits. Defendant Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company (“Garrison”)[1] issued a homeowner's insurance policy to Plaintiff Brandon Gwin. Garrison later cancelled the policy for nonpayment of premiums, but the parties dispute whether the cancellation was effective prior to the date of Plaintiffs' loss.

         Pending before the Court is Garrison's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 17]. For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         Brandon and Aimee Gwin (“the Gwins”) owned a home located at 187 Sonny Road, Monroe, Louisiana. On May 16, 2015, Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company (“Garrison”) issued a policy of homeowner's insurance, bearing policy number GAR 01563 68 28 90A (“the Policy”), to Brandon Gwin for the Sonny Road home. The Policy provides that a “resident spouse” (Aimee Gwin) may conduct the same transactions under the Policy as a “member” (Brandon Gwin).

         It is undisputed that Aimee Gwin was responsible for paying the insurance premiums. The Homeowner's Policy Packet was sent to the Gwin home address and to the attention of Aimee Gwin, who confirmed receipt. She elected to make monthly premium payments on the Policy and to receive monthly statements via electronic mail at aimee0323@yahoo.com.

         By November 2015, the Gwins had failed to timely make multiple premium payments.

         The Policy contained the following provision on cancellation for non-payment of premium:

4. Cancellation . . .
b. We may cancel this policy only for the reasons stated below by letting you know in writing of the date cancellation takes effect. This cancellation notice may be delivered to you, or mailed to you by postal mail at your mailing address shown in the Declaration or provided by you electronically if we have your consent and agreement on file to receive documents electronically.
Proof of mailing, whether by postal mail or by electronic media of communication channel, will be sufficient proof of notice. Electronic notice will be provided upon placing it on our website pursuant to an electronic transaction agreement, or upon directing it to an electronic mailbox of voice channel that you designate for the purpose of receiving mail.
(1) When you have not paid the premium, we may cancel at any time by letting you know at least 10 days before the date cancellation takes effect.

[Doc. No. 17-6].

         Under the Policy, Garrison accelerated the balance due. On or about November 27, 2015, Garrison[2] sent a Notice of Cancellation for Nonpayment of Premium (“Notice of Cancellation”) by electronic mail to Aimee Gwin at the email address provided. The Notice of Cancellation contained a statement that payment under the Policy had been placed on “the pay in full payment plan”' because of the Gwins' nonpayment of the minimum monthly premiums. The Notice of Cancellation provided further that the Gwins were required to make a payment of $1, 542.67 by December 16, 2015, to prevent cancellation for nonpayment of premiums.

         In addition to the electronic mail notification, on November 30, 2015, Garrison sent the Notice of Cancellation to the Gwins' home address via USPS certified mail. A USPS employee left a notice at the Gwin residence on December 3, 2015, instructing the Gwins to pick up the item at the USPS post office, but the Gwins failed to do. From notations on the envelope, it appears that the USPS attempted to deliver the Notice of Cancellation at least one more time on December 22, 2015.[3] Aimee Gwin denies receiving notice from the USPS about this attempted delivery.

         On December 9, 2015, Garrison received an electronic payment from the Gwins of $300.00. No further payments were made on the Policy prior to December 16, 2015.

         Effective December 16, 2015, Garrison cancelled the Policy.

         On December 30, 2015, Garrison sent a final statement to Aimee Gwin indicating a Policy Cancellation Credit in the amount of $1, 505.05 and a remaining balance of $53.29. The December 30, 2015 final statement explained that “[p]ayment of this outstanding balance will immediately close your account with USAA Property and Casualty Insurance. However, it does not assure acceptability for future insurance.” [Doc. No. 17, Exh. D & D-3].

         On January 7, 2016, Garrison received an electronic payment from Aimee Gwin in the amount of $53.29, the remaining balance.

         Garrison sent Aimee Gwin a final letter on that same date, January 7, 2016, thanking her for the payment of $53.29 and advising her that, while the account is now up to date, this most recent payment “doesn't reinstate your previously cancelled insurance coverage.” [Doc. No. 17, Exh. D & D-4]. Aimee Gwin denies receiving this letter.

         After January 7, 2016, neither Garrison nor USAA sent notice or billing statements to the Gwins regarding any homeowner's insurance coverage. The Gwins did not make any further payments after ...


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