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Vol. 9 - Issue 5
July 16, 2020


Court Addresses Argument That State Farm’s “Like A Good Neighbor” Slogan Supports Coverage For Unpaid Claim


The issue in Nelson v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., No. 19-1382 (W.D. Pa. June 3, 2020) is right in the Coverage Opinions wheelhouse.

State Farm advised an insured that a first-party property damage claim was covered.  State Farm then changed its mind and refused to pay for water remediation that it had previously authorized.  The insured could not afford to complete the repairs. 

The insured sued State Farm, asserting the various types of claims that you would expect to see: breach of contract, bad faith, misrepresentation and violation of consumer protection laws.  All of this gives rise to some interesting issues – just not ones that I have the mojo to discuss.

But then the court gets to this gem of an issue.  The complaint cited to State Farm’s famous “Like a good neighbor” slogan as support for the bad faith and consumer protection law claims.

Needless to say, State Farm was not amused and moved to strike these references as impertinent, stating that the slogan is vague and puffery and “cannot be reasonably relied upon as an express warranty or statement of fact.”  State Farm also maintained that its advertising expenditures are irrelevant to whether coverage is owed.

The insured, of course, saw it differently: “Nelson asserts that allegations respecting State Farm’s advertising campaign demonstrate motive to deny claims in bad faith, specifically that State Farm expends so much money in advertising that it is then motivated to deny insurance claims in order to save money.”

The court’s opinion kinda, sorta seems to suggest that the references to the ad slogan isn’t going to be around forever.  However, it was too early to nix them at this stage as the bad faith and consumer protection law claims are still in the case: “While the Court acknowledges State Farm’s concern respecting the ultimate scope of this litigation, the Court does not find at this time that the allegations at issue are irrelevant to the degree that this Court should grant State Farm’s requested relief that every reference to State Farm’s advertisement and slogan be stricken from Nelson’s Complaint. On that basis alone, and without addressing the viability of Nelson’s claims which rely on these allegations at this juncture, the Court will deny State Farm’s request to strike averments regarding State Farm’s advertisements and slogan.”

I wonder what would happen if it takes someone 16 minutes to save 15% on their car insurance.   

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