A New York state trial court recently held that an insured's breach of contract action was time-barred because he failed to commence suit within two years of the dates of loss, as required by the policy. Parker v. Chubb Ins. Co., Index No. 8195/06 (October 26, 2007).

In the case, the plaintiff insured allegedly sustained water and mold damage to his home as a result of two separate floods that occurred during the fall of 2003. Plaintiff's claim for the loss was denied, and sometime in 2006 plaintiff commenced suit against Chubb for breach of the policy. Plaintiff argued that the statute of limitations began to run from the accrual date of his cause of action for breach of contract (i.e., denial of the claim). The court disagreed and held that, pursuant to the policy, the statute of limitations began to run from the date of loss which is the date of the insured catastrophe.

Plaintiff next argued that the term "date of loss" in the policy was unclear and ambiguous, raising an issue of fact requiring discovery as to the term's meaning. The court also rejected this argument and held that the policy language was clear, that the statute of limitations began to run in 2003 (the date of loss), and that plaintiff's lawsuit was time-barred because it was commenced more than two years after the date of loss.

A full copy of the court's decision is available here.