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The alleged theft of gasoline in multiple incidents caused by an incorrect computer program were each too small to reach a fuel distribution company’s deductible, said a federal appeals court, in affirming a lower court’s ruling in favor of a Hannover SE unit.
Dania Beach, Florida-based Port Consolidated Inc. operated a cardlock fuel facility in Riviera Beach, Florida, according to Friday’s ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Port Consolidated Inc. International Insurance Co. of Hannover PLC.
The litigation involves HDI Global Specialty SE, a joint venture of Hannover Re and HDI Global that was formerly known as International Company of Hannover SE, according to a company spokesman.
Cardlock facilities are unattended fueling facilities, at which only authorized customers who have a pre-existing contractual relationship can pump gasoline and diesel fuel, according to the ruling.
Because of an incorrectly programmed setting, Port learned that one company’s drivers were permitted to exceed the 75-gallon limit by up to an extra hundred gallons, despite the company only being charged for 75 gallons per transaction, according to the ruling.
Port billed the company for the extra fuel taken by its drivers, but the company refused to pay, according to the ruling.
Port filed a claim with its insurer, International Insurance Company of Hannover SE -- now known as HDI Global Specialty SE -- then filed suit against the insurer in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when it refused to pay, charging breach of contract.
The district court ruled in the insurer’s favor, and was affirmed by a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel.
Each alleged act of fuel theft constituted a separate occurrence under the policy, said the ruling. “It is undisputed that the price of fuel when the alleged thefts occurred did not exceed four dollars per gallon and that the additional gallons of stolen fuel per transaction did not exceed 100 gallons,” the ruling said.
“Therefore, we conclude that none of the Port’s losses exceeded the Policy’s ($1,000) deductible and that InterHannover was not required to pay Port under the Policy for those alleged fuel thefts,” the ruling, said in affirming the lower court’s summary judgment in the case.
Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.
Hannover Re said in August it will see a “major loss” from the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.
Germany-based Hannover Re SE has withdrawn its profit guidance for the current year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nasdaq reported citing RTTNews. The reinsurer withdrew the outlook amid uncertainty surrounding both the claims development and the capital market environment. Hannover Re expected its gross premiums to grow by nearly 5% and net income to around €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) this year.