No Defense Owed to Insured for Mediation Involving Environmental Contamination

The Illinois Appellate Court recently held that the term “suit” in a commercial general liability policy does not include a pre-suit mediation between the insured and others over the allocation of costs incurred to remediate environmental contamination. As a result, the court ruled that the insurers had no obligation to reimburse the insured for its legal fees incurred in the mediation.[1] The insured operated a manufacturing facility on a property that was eventually declared a Superfund site by the U.S.
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Seventh Circuit Holds That Replacement Cost Coverage Requires Aesthetic Matching in Hailstorm Claim

In the latest entry of “matching” jurisprudence under first party property policies, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledging that jurisdictions have reached conflicting results and applying Illinois law, held that a carrier was required to replace undamaged siding to match the panels replaced due to damage in a hailstorm.[1] In doing so, the court affirmed the Northern District of Illinois’ award of summary judgment in favor of the insured on that issue. The parties’ dispute arose out of a
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No Privilege for Communications Between Insurance Adjuster and In-House Counsel

Courts around the country continue to refine the scope of the attorney-client privilege and the attorney work-product doctrine in the context of communications between an insurance company adjuster and the insurer’s in-house counsel. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado held that a claims adjuster’s emails, claim notes, and interoffice memoranda are not privileged, even though they involved the carrier’s in-house attorney. Olsen v. Owners Ins. Co., No. 18-CV-1665-RM-NYW, 2019 WL 2502201 (D. Colo. June 17,
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Part 2: Insurance Company Compliance with the CCPA as Businesses

This blog post is our second post in a multi-part series addressing what insurers need to know about the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This post focuses on insurers’ compliance obligations under the CCPA. If you would benefit from a background discussion on the CCPA, please visit our first post in this series entitled “Part 1: The California Consumer Privacy Act – What Insurers Need to Know.” The CCPA applies to insurers to the extent they qualify as “businesses” that
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Eleventh Circuit Holds that Referencing Sealed Documents is Not Proper Notice

The Eleventh Circuit upheld a win for the insurer under a claims-made-and-reported policy in Crowley Mar. Corp. v. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, No. 18-10953, 2019 WL 3294003 (11th Cir. July 23, 2019), finding that the insured did not provide timely notice. In so holding, the court rejected the insured’s argument that it provided timely notice by sending a letter to the insurer referencing an affidavit which the insured claimed alleged wrongful conduct against the insured, but was sealed, preventing the insurer from confirming the insured’s claim for
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Florida’s Assignment of Benefits Reform Bill Becomes Law Ahead of Peak Hurricane Season

Florida’s new Assignment of Benefits (AOB) reform bill became law on July 1, 2019, a short time ahead of the peak of this year’s hurricane season. Time will tell if it results in the amelioration of the AOB litigation epidemic, fueled by Florida’s Attorney’s Fee Statute Section 627.428, awarding attorney’s fees to prevailing assignees in insurance disputes. The attorney’s fee statute is credited with having incentivized Florida contractors to litigate even minor differences[1] with insurers over repair work performed or
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What Is Modern Warfare? Ninth Circuit Rules War Exclusions Do Not Preclude Coverage for First Party Loss Caused by Hamas Rocket Attacks

On July 12, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found two “war” exclusions inapplicable, under California law, to a loss caused by 2014 hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Universal Cable Productions, LLC v. Atlantic Specialty Insurance Co., No. 17-56672, 2019 WL 3049034 (July 12, 2019). In doing so, the court overturned the Central District of California’s award of summary judgment in favor of Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company. The parties’ dispute arose out of Atlantic’s refusal to indemnify Universal for
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Second Circuit Finds Insurer’s 52-Day Delay in Disclaiming Coverage Did Not Violate Insurance Law Section 3420(d)(2)’s Timely Disclaimer Requirement

The court of appeals for the Second Circuit recently confirmed that a liability insurer that waits to deny coverage so that it can investigate the facts giving rise to the disclaimer will not be estopped from denying coverage under Insurance Law Section 3420(d)(2), provided that the insurer does not use the investigation as a tactic to delay the disclaimer. United Fin. Cas. Co. v. Country-Wide Ins. Co., No. 18-3022, 2019 WL 2724267 (2d Cir. July 1, 2019). Section 3420(d)(2) requires
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Texas Supreme Court Opens the Door for Statutory Damages After Appraisal

Good faith use of the appraisal process to resolve legitimate valuation disputes under a property policy is no longer an absolute defense under Texas law to claims for statutory delay damages. In a pair of decisions regarding appraisal, the Texas Supreme Court held that when appraisal is invoked after the commencement of litigation, the prompt payment of the award by an insurer precludes statutory bad faith claims under Chapter 541 of the Texas Insurance Code, but potentially allows for statutory
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When a Bad Apple Spoils the Bunch: An Appraiser’s Bias May Cost the Policyholder in the Long Run

In a long-awaited decision, Colorado’s highest court ruled a designated appraiser in a property insurance dispute must remain impartial and free from favoring one party over the other. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the policy language required appraisers to be “unbiased, disinterested, and unswayed by personal interest.” This decision is a win for the insurance industry, although the Supreme Court created a framework that is certain to lead to disputes about an appraiser’s partiality in the future. The decision
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