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Insurance – Fire – Notice of Cancellation – ‘Giving’ – Mail

Insurance – Fire – Notice of Cancellation – ‘Giving’ – Mail

Where G.S. § 58-44-16(f)(10) says an insurer may cancel fire insurance policies by “giving” written notice to the insured, all that is required is that the insurer mail notice of cancellation to the insured. No proof of receipt of the notice is required. Even though plaintiffs never received the notice of cancellation, since the defendant-insurer mailed notice of cancellation to plaintiffs, defendant effectively cancelled plaintiffs’ fire insurance policy prior to their home’s destruction by fire.

We affirm judgment for the defendant-insurer.

Section 58-44-16(f)(10) governs cancellation of standard fire insurance policies, providing that such policies “may be cancelled at any time by th[e] insurer by giving to the insured a five days’ written notice of cancellation[.]” Article 44 does not define what the word “giving” requires, so we look to the plain meaning of the term in order to ascertain the intent of the legislature.

A review of dictionary definitions of “give” convinces us that the plain meaning of the word “give,” particularly in its present participle form, includes the act of mailing notice of cancellation to the insured.

We note that the General Assembly requires that cancellation notice be sent via certified mail or actually received with respect to several different types of insurance policies but chose not to include those requirements here. Absent language in the statute requiring more, we conclude that the legislature intended mailing to constitute “giving” notice of cancellation.

G.S. § 58-41-10 is not applicable here. Section 58-41-10 outlines the scope of insurance policies governed under Article 41 and to which the cancellation provisions in G.S. § 58-41-15 apply, stating, “This Article does not apply to insurance written under Articles 21, 26, 36, 37, 45 or 46 of this Chapter[ or to] insurance written for residential risks in conjunction with insurance written under Article 36 of this Chapter[.]” 11 N.C. Admin. Code 10.0313(a) provides, “For the purposes of G.S. 58-41-10(a), a ‘residential risk’ is a risk covered under any of the following North Carolina Rate Bureau residential programs,” including the “Homeowners Program[ and the] Dwelling Fire and Extended Coverage Program[.]”

Plaintiffs’ insurance policy was written on a standard HO3 form, and the Rate Bureau Commissioner has approved the form under the Homeowner’s Program, which is authorized by Article 36. These statutory provisions along with the record clearly establish that plaintiffs’ policy was covered by Article 36, meaning the cancellation provisions in § 58-41-15 do not apply to the policy.

Lastly, it is a general rule of statutory construction that where one of two statutes might apply to the same situation, the statute which deals more directly and specifically with the situation controls over the statute of more general applicability. Article 36 specifically applies to “insurance against loss to residential real property with not more than four housing units located in this State[.]” § 58-36-1(3). Article 41 applies generally to a wide variety of policies, including property, liability, title, and indemnity insurance policies. § 58-41- 10(a). Accordingly, it is apparent that the legislature intended for Article 36 to apply to standard homeowner’s insurance policies.



(Arrowood, J.) Because the term “giving” is ambiguous in this context, I would conclude the statute must be interpreted in favor of the insured and therefore require proof of delivery for a cancellation notice to be effective.

Ha v. Nationwide General Insurance Co. (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-210-22, 10 pp.) (Appealed from Wake County Superior Court (Rebecca Holt, J.) John Kirby for plaintiffs; Stephen Feldman, Travis Hinman and Garrett Steadman for defendant; Walter Brock and Angela Farag Craddock for amicus curiae. 2022-NCCOA-783


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