In All Should Use Greater Care Handling Underwriting Information, insurance expert witness Akos Swierkiewicz writes:
In some instances, there may be an appearance of misrepresentation or omission due to the failure by the insurer to clarify responses to application questions. When presented with ambiguous or conflicting information, it behooves insurers to seek clarification prior to binding coverage or issuing the policy. For example, when an applicant found an application question inapplicable to its business, he amended it in a good faith attempt to provide accurate and complete information, and the insurer issued the policy without seeking clarifications. When a claim occurred, the insurer denied it, citing the answer to the modified question as evidence of misrepresentation.
In certain circumstances only litigation can resolve allegations of misrepresentation or omission. However, the exercise of greater care in obtaining and preparing underwriting information by applicants or brokers, and clarification of ambiguous information by insurers can substantially reduce the number of cases requiring litigation and inevitable delays and costs.