- Insurer Does Not Subject Itself To Either General Or Specific Jurisdiction In California By Merely Accepting Premium Payments From California Or Processing And Paying Claims Submitted By An Insured For Services Rendered In That State
- October 14, 2009
- Law Firm: McCormick, Barstow, Sheppard, Wayte & Carruth LLP - Fresno Office
Elkman v. National State Ins. Co., 173 Cal.App.4th 1305 (2009)
While living in Florida, Esther Elkman purchased a long-term care insurance policy from National, a Missouri corporation. The policy was delivered in Florida. Elkman relocated to California and made a claim under the policy for home health care benefits. At the end of a two-year period, National refused to make further payments under the policy based on its contention that the maximum benefit limit of 24 months had been reached. Elkman filed suit against National in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging a breach of contract and bad faith. National moved to quash service of summons and complaint on the ground of lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion and Elkman appealed.
THE COURT’S RULING
In affirming the trial court, the Court of Appeal noted that National had not come to California voluntarily no matter how many of its insureds had. It was undisputed that National was licensed and authorized to do business only in certain states, and that National was not, and never had been, licensed or authorized to do business in California. National maintained no office or bank accounts in California, did not have licensed agents selling its insurance products in California, never advertised its products for sale in California, and never issued or delivered insurance products in California. The simple fact that it accepted premium payments from California from insureds who had moved to the state and processed and paid claims to insureds who resided in California was insufficient to establish the contacts required for jurisdiction to attach.
THE EFFECT OF THE COURT’S RULING
Where an insurer’s only ties to California are acceptance of premiums and payment of claims associated with the insureds who unilaterally have decided to move to the state, California has no general or specific jurisdiction.