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Warranty - Insurance

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A warranty in an insurance policy is a promise by the insured party that statements affecting the validity of the contract are true. Most insurance contracts require the insured to make certain warranties. For example, to obtain a HEALTH INSURANCE policy, an insured party may have to warrant that he does not suffer from a terminal disease. If a warranty made by an insured party turns out to be untrue, the insurer may cancel the policy and refuse to cover claims.

Not all misstatements made by an insured party give the insurer the right to cancel a policy or refuse a claim. Only misrepresentations on conditions and warranties in the contract give an insurer such rights. To qualify as a condition or warranty, the statement must be expressly included in the contract, and the provision must clearly show that the parties intended that the rights of the insured and insurer would depend on the truth of the statement.

Warranties in insurance contracts can be divided into two types: affirmative or promissory. An affirmative warranty is a statement regarding a fact at the time the contract was made. A promissory warranty is a statement about future facts or about facts that will continue to be true throughout the term of the policy. An untruthful affirmative warranty makes an insurance contract void at its inception. If a promissory warranty becomes true, the insurer may cancel coverage at such time as the warranty becomes untrue. For example, if an insured party warrants that property to be covered by a fire insurance policy will never be used for the mixing of explosives, the insurer may cancel the policy if the insured party decides to start mixing explosives on the property. Warranty provisions should contain language indicating whether they are affirmative or promissory.

Many states have created laws that protect insureds from cancellations due to misrepresented warranties. Courts tend to favor insureds by classifying indefinite warranties as affirmative. Many state legislatures have created laws providing that no misrepresented warranty should cancel an insurance contract if the MISREPRESENTATION was not fraudulent and did not increase the risks covered by the policy.

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