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Estrada v. Timber Structures, Inc.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

November 18, 2014

SANTIAGO ESTRADA, Employee, Plaintiff,
v.
TIMBER STRUCTURES, INC., Employer, and AMERICAN ZURICH INSURANCE COMPANY, Carrier and JAMES C. CERATT, JR., d/b/a/ TIMBER STRUCTURES BUILDERS, Non-Insured Employer, Defendants

Heard in the Court of Appeals October 8, 2014

Appeal by plaintiff and defendants from the Opinion and Award entered 24 January 2014 by the North Carolina Industrial Commission, No. X02405.

Hedrick Kepley, PLLC, by Jeffrey M. Hedrick, for plaintiff-appellant.

Patrick Harper & Dixon L.L.P., by Michael P. Thomas, for defendant-appellants Timber Structures, Inc., and James C. Ceratt, Jr., d/b/a Timber Structures Builders.

Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, LLP, by Shelley W. Coleman and M. Duane Jones, for defendant-appellee American Zurich Insurance Company.

STEELMAN, Judge. Judges CALABRIA and McCULLOUGH concur.

OPINION

Page 547

STEELMAN, Judge.

Where defendants failed to pay the renewal premium due on their workers' compensation insurance policy by the expiration date of the policy, the policy expired. Neither N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 58-36-105 nor 58-36-110 govern the expiration of a workers' compensation insurance policy at the end of the policy period.

I. Factual and Procedural History

James C. Ceratt, Jr., (with James C. Ceratt, Jr., d/b/a Timber Structures Builders, collectively, " defendants" ) is a licensed general contractor. Santiago Estrada Flores (plaintiff) was employed as a laborer and carpenter for defendants. Prior to 2009, defendants had several workers' compensation insurance policies canceled due to defendants' failure to pay the required premium. As a result, in 2009 defendants obtained workers' compensation insurance through the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which assigned defendant-appellee American Zurich Insurance Company (" Zurich" ) to offer defendants workers' compensation insurance. Upon defendants' payment of a premium deposit of $850.00, Zurich issued Policy Number 6ZZ0B-9856M64-8-09 to defendants for the period 4 August 2009 through 4 August 2010.

On 25 may 2010 Zurich mailed defendants a letter offering to renew the workers' compensation insurance policy. At the top of the letter was printed " EXPIRATION DATE 080410." The letter stated in relevant part that:

Enclosed is your renewal quotation[.]
. . .
IMPORTANT NOTICE
All Premiums billed under your expiring policy must be paid before your policy can be renewed. . . .
In order to avoid a lapse in coverage, your renewal payment must be received by the expiration date shown on your bill. Depending on the plan requirements, if payment is not received by the expiration date, either the policy will be issued with a lapse in coverage ...

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