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Understanding Rhode Island Contractual Obligations and Consequences

Any time you enter into a contract, it is crucial that you understand all of the terms and conditions of the agreement you are entering into. This is of especially high importance for agreements such as insurance policies on major purchases in your life, such as your car or your home.

Although many insurance policies or similar contractual agreements can often be long and tedious to read through, it is essential that you, as the policyholder, understand the obligations that you are bound to by entering into the agreement, as well as what the other party has agreed to. This way, you are more likely to know when you can invoke specific clauses of an agreement and defend yourself when issues arise.

In a recent Rhode Island Supreme Court opinion, the court considered whether a couple was entitled to receive a subsequent appraisal of damage to their property in addition to compensation for damage incurred. The plaintiffs, who were insured by the defendant, notified the defendant of water damage to their home that was the result of snow that had accumulated on the roof. The plaintiffs submitted a claim to the defendant, which detailed the damage. Shortly after, the plaintiffs received a check for $14,549, which they cashed. More than a year later, the plaintiffs requested an appraisal for the original loss, which was rejected by the defendants because the plaintiffs failed to dispute the scope of payment, more than a year had elapsed, and the claim was categorized as resolved. The plaintiffs sued the defendant, claiming that the denial of the claim constituted a breach of their insurance contract.

On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court’s decision to enter summary judgment in favor of the defendant. Because the plaintiffs delayed their request for an appraisal, the Supreme Court agreed with the Superior Court’s analysis that the plaintiffs had waived any right they may have had to a subsequent appraisal. In addition, because the plaintiffs waited over 600 days before attempting to invoke the appraisal clause of their insurance policy, the Supreme Court held that the request was untimely and the defendant was not bound to pay since the agreement had a 180-day requirement.

In Rhode Island, courts tend to interpret the contested terms of an insurance policy the same way they evaluate the construction of contracts in general. When parties consent to be bound in any type of agreement, each party in the contract is “bound to proceed reasonably and in good faith toward the completion of the contemplated performance.” Rhode Island law states, however, that if a party breaches the contract, this also justifies the non-breaching party’s decision to not deliver on its contractual obligations.

Do You Need a Rhode Island Attorney for a Real Estate or Insurance Dispute?

If you are dealing with a dispute with an insurer in Rhode Island or involved in a tenuous real estate deal, contact the attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC for assistance today. Our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in all types of Rhode Island real estate lawsuits and insurance disputes and will provide you with the support and advocacy you need to pursue your claim with ease. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at 401-300-4055.

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