VERBERT v. GARCIA

Reset A A Font size: Print

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.

Thomas VERBERT, appellant, v. William GARCIA, et al., respondents.

Decided: June 30, 2009

WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P., MARK C. DILLON, FRED T. SANTUCCI, and RUTH C. BALKIN, JJ. McCallion & Associates, LLP, New York, N.Y. (Kenneth F. McCallion of counsel), for appellant. Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP, White Plains, N.Y. (Nancy Quinn Koba of counsel), for respondent William Garcia. Saiber, LLC, New York, N.Y. (David J. D'Aloia of counsel), for respondent Allstate Insurance Company.

In an action, inter alia, to recover damages for breach of a contract to procure insurance, the plaintiff appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Orange County (McGuirk, J.), dated March 25, 2008, which granted the defendants' separate motions for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against each of them.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed, with one bill of costs.

 An insurance agent or broker has a common-law duty to obtain requested coverage for a client within a reasonable amount of time, or to inform the client of the inability to do so (see Murphy v. Kuhn, 90 N.Y.2d 266, 270, 660 N.Y.S.2d 371, 682 N.E.2d 972;  Loevner v. Sullivan & Strauss Agency, Inc., 35 A.D.3d 392, 393, 825 N.Y.S.2d 145;  Tappan Wire & Cable v. County of Rockland, 305 A.D.2d 665, 666, 761 N.Y.S.2d 237;  Reilly v. Progressive Ins. Co., 288 A.D.2d 365, 365, 733 N.Y.S.2d 220).   Thus, the duty is defined by the nature of the client's request (see Loevner v. Sullivan & Strauss Agency, Inc., 35 A.D.3d at 393, 825 N.Y.S.2d 145;  Kyes v. Northbrook Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 278 A.D.2d 736, 737, 717 N.Y.S.2d 757;  Wied v. New York Cent. Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 208 A.D.2d 1132, 1133, 618 N.Y.S.2d 467).   Absent a specific request for coverage not already in a client's policy or the existence of a special relationship with the client, an insurance agent or broker has no continuing duty to advise, guide, or direct a client to obtain additional coverage (see Hoffend & Sons, Inc. v. Rose & Kiernan, Inc., 7 N.Y.3d 152, 157-158, 818 N.Y.S.2d 798, 851 N.E.2d 1149;  Murphy v. Kuhn, 90 N.Y.2d at 270-271, 660 N.Y.S.2d 371, 682 N.E.2d 972;  Loevner v. Sullivan & Strauss Agency, Inc., 35 A.D.3d 392, 825 N.Y.S.2d 145).

 Here, the defendants demonstrated their prima facie entitlement to summary judgment (see Winegrad v. New York Univ. Med. Ctr., 64 N.Y.2d 851, 853, 487 N.Y.S.2d 316, 476 N.E.2d 642;  Zuckerman v. City of New York, 49 N.Y.2d 557, 562, 427 N.Y.S.2d 595, 404 N.E.2d 718) by presenting evidence that the plaintiff had not explicitly requested that the defendant insurance agent procure specific insurance coverage (see Hoffend & Sons, Inc. v. Rose & Kiernan, Inc., 7 N.Y.3d 152, 818 N.Y.S.2d 798, 851 N.E.2d 1149;   Loevner v. Sullivan & Strauss Agency, Inc., 35 A.D.3d 392, 825 N.Y.S.2d 145).   Moreover, even if the plaintiff's request for a “quote” could be deemed an explicit request for the procurement of insurance, the defendant agent informed the plaintiff that he could not generate a quote unless the plaintiff provided him with specific information relating to the property's potential location in a flood zone, which the plaintiff did not provide.   Thus, under the circumstances of this case, the defendant agent did not breach any duty to procure insurance coverage for the plaintiff (see Hoffend & Sons, Inc. v. Rose & Kiernan, Inc., 7 N.Y.3d at 152, 818 N.Y.S.2d 798, 851 N.E.2d 1149;  Murphy v. Kuhn, 90 N.Y.2d at 270-271, 660 N.Y.S.2d 371, 682 N.E.2d 972;   Loevner v. Sullivan & Strauss Agency, Inc., 35 A.D.3d 392, 825 N.Y.S.2d 145).   In addition, there was no special relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant agent (see Hoffend & Sons, Inc. v. Rose & Kiernan, Inc., 7 N.Y.3d at 158, 818 N.Y.S.2d 798, 851 N.E.2d 1149;  Murphy v. Kuhn, 90 N.Y.2d at 271, 660 N.Y.S.2d 371, 682 N.E.2d 972).   Since the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact in opposition (see Alvarez v. Prospect Hosp., 68 N.Y.2d 320, 324, 508 N.Y.S.2d 923, 501 N.E.2d 572), the Supreme Court properly granted the defendants' separate motions for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

Copied to clipboard