Mathis v. Zurich Ins.
Justice Alexander Hunter Jr.
Mathis moved for leave to reargue a prior decision which granted insurers' cross-motion for summary judgment and dismissed her complaint. She sought an order directing defendants insurers to remit payment to her in satisfaction of an underlying judgment. Mathis was involved in a motor vehicle accident with defendants' insureds and was awarded a judgment after inquest. She secured a default judgment against the insureds and mailed a copy to defendants, who disclaimed coverage for the accident. Mathis argued defendants' failure to timely disclaim coverage precluded an effective disclaimer despite an insured's untimely notice of the incident to insurer. The court stated absent a showing of prejudice, an insurer was not entitled to disclaim coverage based on late notice of suit where the notice of claim was timely. It found while defendants learned of the default judgment in January 2011, they failed to disclaim coverage for nearly 10 months, and failed to provide an explanation for such delay. Hence, the court concluded defendants' disclaimer of coverage was ineffective regardless of Mathis' untimely notice of suit. Thus, Mathis was granted reargument, and upon same, the court vacated its prior decision, granting summary judgment in Mathis' favor.