INSURANCE - SOUTHERN CLEANING SERVICE, INC. V. ESSEX INS. CO.
Southern Cleaning Service, Inc. v. Essex Ins. Co., [Ms. 1140870, Feb. 19, 2016] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2016). If a person buys insurance through an independent agent and the insurer puts the independent agent’s name and address on the policy, this may constitute substantial evidence that the insurer gave the independent agent the apparent authority to receive claims on the policy. A claim in this case was presented to the independent agent, but it was not forwarded to the insurer, which did not receive actual notice of the claim until 15 months after the injury. Essex denied coverage due to untimely notice, and when the defendants sued Essex to provide coverage, the trial court entered a summary judgment for Essex. The Supreme Court reverses that summary judgment, holding that, because Essex placed the independent agency’s name and contact information on the policy and did not place contact information for itself on the policy, there was substantial evidence that it cloaked the independent agency with apparent authority to receive the notice of claim.