The Covenant to Provide Notice: Materiality or Prejudice Needed To Refuse Payment

Sometimes courts get it right, both analytically and in the result. This was true in the landmark decision of the Texas Supreme Court in PAJ, Inc. v. Hanover Insurance Co. (Texas Jan. 11, 2008). In this case, the Texas court holds that “an insured’s failure to timely notify its insurer of a claim or suit does not defeat coverage if the insurer was not prejudiced by the delay.” While I agree with the holding, what may be more significant is the court’s adoption of the right analytical approach, specifically, considering the notice provision as covenant whose breach discharges the insurance company’s performance only where that breach constitutes a material breach of the contract.

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