Couple allowed to sue insurance agent for value of expensive ring
Barbara and Steven Lemberg sought replacement value insurance coverage for an engagement ring with an appraised value of .....get this....$107,000.00. They consulted with their insurance agent, Kenneth Korotkin, who procured the insurance. When the ring was lost, however, the coverage through Chubb Insurance was limited to $36,776.00. The couple sued their agent for procuring inadequate coverage. A four-day trial was held in Oakland County, after which the jury awarded the Lembergs the difference in value between the actual replacement value and the replacement value insured throught Korotkin. Korotkin's insurers appealed the verdict, alleging that Korotkin owed no duty to the Lembergs.
The Court of Appeals reviewed the trial and concluded that Korotkin had no basis to overturn the appeal. Even though the Lembergs were obligated to read the policy and confirm the coverage provided, the Court held that the jury was not wrong in concluding that Korotkin was negligent in representing that the policy provided full replacement value. The Lembergs testified that they reviewed the policy, but did not "study" it and believed that pursuant to the verbage they read and Korotkin's representations, they had full coverage. The Court concluded that the couple's failure to accurately understand the policy language did not immunize Korotkin. The jury was free to believe that Korotkin had misrepresented the nature of Lemberg's coverage in response to an ambiguous request, giving inaccurate advice in response to an assumed additional duty.