Everyone in Connecticut has been effected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Executive Orders issued by Governor Ned Lamont. Some Connecticut resident may have recognized that recent Executive Order 7G suspends most civil statutes of limitation, allowing causes of action with deadlines to initiate a lawsuit by March 19, 2020 to be filed after that date.
You are likely aware that statutes of limitation are laws which require an injured party to sue the wrongful party within a fixed period of time, after the injury occurs or after the injured party learns of the wrongful conduct. You are likely not aware of the fact that when an insurance policyholder chooses to sue their insurance carrier, the timeframe to sue is not dictated by statute but rather but the language of the insurance policy.
While there are statutes which regulate the minimum timeframe to commence suit that can be dictated in an insurance policy, such a C.G.S.A. § 38a-307, ultimately the timeframe to sue is based on the language of the contract and not any statute. The practical effect of this distinction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is that Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7G applies to statutes of limitation but does not extend or suspend the contractual limitation period set forth in policies of insurance in the State of Connecticut.
Our office has contacted the Connecticut Insurance Department to address this issue, as well as to address difficulties in effecting service of process on insurance companies, given that the Connecticut Insurance Commissioner is the agent for service for a number of non-resident insurance companies doing business in Connecticut. The Department of Insurance’s response stated that they have not suspended or extended the timeframe to sue set forth in the various policies throughout the State. They also specified that the Department would continue to accept service of process for the insurance carriers whom they are agent for service, on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, for the time being. The Department’s response further indicates that they may issue a bulletin in the future directed to other agent for service for insurance carriers in the State of Connecticut, to ensure that they continue to accept service through the pandemic.
Given that the governor’s orders have been silent on contractual suit limitations in insurance policies, that the Department of Insurance has stated it is not extending os suspending these limitation periods and is continuing to accept service on a limited basis, any Connecticut property owner who is currently in a dispute with their insurance carrier, must be aware that the limitation period set forth in their insurance policy is what will dictate whether or not their lawsuit is timely. This language is traditionally located in the “Conditions” section the any insurance policy, often under the heading “Suit Against Us,” and is generally no more than two years from the date of the loss.
If you are currently in a dispute with your insurance carrier regarding damage to your property, and the deadline to file suit in your insurance policy is approaching, you should contact an attorney immediately to ensure that suit is timely filed to protect your rights as a policyholder. While Executive Order 7G may provide some relief to Connecticut residents attempting to file a lawsuit for personal injuries or divorce, it does not provide any additional time for policyholder’s to file suit against their insurance company.
Attorneys Biller and LeMoult limit their practice by choice to the representation of policyholders in connection with significant property damage claims and victims of serious personal injuries.
Biller, Sachs, Zito & LeMoult, 2750 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, Connecticut
Email: [email protected] | Phone: 203-281-1717| Fax: 203-281-7887