Library of Articles
“IN 2010, I authored an article on the dangers of absolute exclusions.1 That article was prompted by an appellate decision in Florida, James River Ins. Co. v. Ground Down Eng’g, 540 F.3d 1270 (11th Cir. 2008). In that case, an engineering firm that was providing consulting services on whether land had become polluted found that its errors and omissions (E&O) policy, which covered it as an environmental consultant, didn’t cover pollution!”
“What are some of the additional problems raised however by following the concept of being only an order taker? You have a customer that comes in your office who says I have a business and I need insurance. What do you recommend? How does in the insurance agent or broker therein not give advice by answering the question. Are they supposed to say “what is it you’re worried about? We have numerous commercial policies we could provide , then we could confirm we will provide it depending on what your needs are and as you know, you must have Worker’s Comp. Perhaps you might consider should insuring your property, or consider insuring your business for liability. What are your concerns and what are your needs? “ I can’t imagine any consumer of any kind would want to do business with a broker that would fail to advise them as to what might be needed. But let’s take it a step further. I don’t know any Insurance Broker that would advertise that they have no duty to advise, guide or direct clients as to the appropriate types of insurance coverages for its business operations. But there is another reality that is ignored. That is, your average insurance agent or broker with five years experience in any line, whether it be Personal Lines, like homeowners and auto, or Commercial lines knows more about the ins and outs and extensions to coverage of the insurance policy and what may be needed by an Insured than any Insured regardless of sophistication.”
…the COI does not/should not amend or change the policy in any way, explicitly stating so in the form of a disclaimer. However, the disclaimer is proving not to be bulletproof, at least in Washington.
Montrose v Admiral affected the principle of known loss and caused the insurance industry to react with a variety of “Montrose Exclusion” endorsements and the Insurance Services Office to change the insuring agreement in the CGL policy. Its impact was, and still is, felt beyond California’s borders.
During this unprecedented time of state-mandated business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, you cannot afford to risk errors and omissions claims against your agency. An ounce of prevention now could be worth a pound of E&O cure in the future.
6. The insurance application process now requires more attention. There was a time, in the not too distant past, when most applications for property and casualty insurance did not require the signature of the insurance buyer. Agents routinely completed applications and underwriters readily accepted them without anyone’s signature on the application. This custom and practice is no more. Insurance applications have become more than just tools to gather underwriting information to determine the eligibility of the applicant for coverage and for premium determination purposes. The necessity for thoroughness and precision has greatly increased. It is more than appropriate and appreciated by the underwriter for the applicant to provide supplemental answers and explanations along with the standardized application. These relatively recent changes in the usual and customary practices of making an application for insurance can make the difference between having a claim covered and not having it covered. An ambiguity or misunderstanding can become an allegation of misrepresentation, which can lead to no coverage at all, rather than just a possible increase in premiums. Policy rescission and voiding policies ab initio are on the rise, along with underwriters using application information as “Warrants” thereby making the application a part of the policy (which has always been the case with life insurance policy applications). These developments make providing accurate information to underwriters more than just important. Accurate information becomes the basis for the existence of the contract itself and adds an increased threshold to the concept of “utmost good-¬‐faith” which is the traditional basis of all insurance relationships. However, “utmost good-¬‐faith” is a two-¬‐way street. Insurance companies sometimes attempt to deny coverage based on conditions and exclusions that are not, and never were intended, appropriate to the situation or the claim at hand. Some prohibitions were intended to exclude coverage because the hazard is better transferred by another type of policy, not to be used to exclude an otherwise covered claim. This type of unfair claims settlement practice is rare and usually caused by poor attention to detail in the filing of a claim and/or inexperienced claims adjusters. The insurance buyer needs to be equally diligent and vigilant as to the accuracy of applications of insurance and in the filing of a claim under an insurance policy. Lesson: Insurance applications are more important than they once were. Plan and prepare in a careful, thorough manner before submitting an application for insurance or filing a claim.
MANDY CONNELL: We are dealing with significant brush fires, we’re going to have a really bad fire season, we have that here in Colorado and I thought it would be timely to bring someone on to talk about what a homeowner should do before the possibility of disaster strikes because we’re in a situation if a brush fire pops up near your home when you are at work you may not be able to go home again depending on the severity of the fire and its movements and things of that nature, so what kind of guidance can you give us in terms of preparing for a natural disaster before it happens? DAVID STEGALL: The best thing to do is it go through your mind and imagine that it’s already happening. You want to have a plan before you have to deal with it, and the Colorado authorities, the national forest service and there is a number of things, has all sorts of things on their websites as to the best way to protect your property from a physical standpoint, but the best thing to do from an insurance standpoint is to make sure you’re “insured to value” which means that you have enough insurance on your house to pay for it when it burns down and this is a serious problem, this is where more of acrimony between policyholders and insurance companies happen on any other issue, it’s the value of the dwelling and a lot of people are confused on this issue. They think “oh well the mortgage company told me I have a mortgage of a $180,000 and so that’s what I want the insurance for.
•Wrongful Designation by Thomas M. Braniff, JD, CPCU and Robert P. Gaddis, JD; •The Essential Bookshelf for Expert Witnesses by Kevin Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC; •The 411 on Becoming an Expert Witnesses by Elise M. Farnham, CPCU, ARM, AIM, CPIW; •Working as an Expert Witnesses by Douglas R. Emerick; and •“Be Careful What You DON’T Ask For” By Bill Wilson, CPCU, ARM, AIM, AAM.
In today’s business climate more focus is placed on lean operations. This trend is becoming increasingly more commonplace as corporations are divesting of business lines and returning to core competencies. As decentralization continues to grow and corporations are relying on supply and sales agreements with non-related parties, the impact of a supplier or customer’s loss on a business’ operations increases substantially.
Maintaining client relationships is critical for insurance brokers and agencies, especially given the fact that developing new commercial clients involves a significant time investment to understand the client’s business and risks and to implement solutions for risk transfer. Once insurance coverage is in place and policies are issued, the focus of the agency switches to servicing the account. The agency is happy. The client is happy. But what happens when your client experiences a significant property loss?
Preparing business interruption claims takes thoughtful planning and insightful analysis, clearly communicated to all of the parties involved in the claims process. One of the most important factors is the breadth and depth of analyzing relevant financial information related to interrupted business operations. Although this may seem like an intuitive step, there is often a gap between the internally prepared financial information and the analysis to determine lost profits. Application of due diligence results in a smooth claim process, quicker payment from the insurer and a fair and equitable recovery.
“Since its creation, “claims made” wording’s use has expanded outside of the “profession” and professional liability realm, finding use in diverse liability coverages. But the roots of “claims made” wording, and its most common use still, is found in covering the exposures created by a “professional’s” activities. As seen by the list of true “professions,” professionals are individuals who provide a service to society which, if done poorly, could cause extreme or irreparable personal or financial harm. … The expansion of claims made policy forms beyond “professions” caused the basic “claims made” concept to diverge and evolve into two distinct forms. One evolutionary branch commenced in professional liability coverages (known also as “errors and omissions” coverages in this series) and the second branch grew out of the financial services industry and the need for directors and officers liability protection, fiduciary liability and employment practices liability (referred throughout this series as “executive liability” coverages). Although both branches attach to the tree at the same point; greatly different “claims made triggers” have resulted. Additionally, coverage terms, conditions and definitions differ between the two branches.”
“Lawyers are advocates, and as such try to paint the best picture of the facts for their clients. It’s a good strategy in front of a jury or arbitrator, but not with an expert. The non-confidential information about the case that the other side is going to learn anyway should not be kept from an expert. Otherwise, a strongly favorable expert opinion can tumble like a house of cards on crossexamination. It can ruin your whole day, not to mention the case. Sometimes, your expert can do you an immense favor (if hired early) by identifying a truly hopeless case—one that should be settled before the other side realizes just how good their case is. But he or she can only do that with an accurate knowledge of the facts. A caveat: the attorney’s opinions about the case and confidential communications with the client should not be given to an expert, or they may become discoverable. There are ways to get damaging information to an expert without breaching the attorney‐client or work‐product privileges”
“Diminishing limits policies create a host of potential problems for insurance company claim departments. As is well known the insurance industry has long been plagued with “nuisance” claims. While in some instances insurance companies make quick settlements of nuisance claims to avoid defense cost expenditures, in others, insurers will attempt to resist such claims to avoid setting a precedent, thereby sending a message to the plaintiff’s bar that nuisance claims will not be honored. Considering that defense costs are deducted from the policy’s aggregate limits, either course of action places an insurance company in a difficult position. … “
“Directors and officers liability policies have long been issued on a “pure claims-made” basis (a phrase this writer first coined in 1990). That is, they were written with no prior act date (also known as a retroactive date). As a result, wrongful acts of the directors and officers dating back to corporate formation were covered as long as the claim was first made against the insured during the policy term. To minimize the singular risk D&O insurers were taking (i.e., “what probability exists that a claim will be first made against the insured during the policy term?”), they began using a “continuity date” and/or a “prior/pending litigation exclusionary” date that was the same as the inception date of the first policy issued. The date the insured first obtained coverage thus became known as the “first coverage date” so the “continuity date” could be honored at renewal. This was reinforced by a warranty within the application for coverage stating that the insured was or was not aware of facts, incidents, or circumstances that could give rise to a claim in the future.”
From the Spring 2018 issue of the CPCU CLEW Interest Group newsletter.
Whether defending or litigating, success with Insurance Agent E&O cases can hinge on the discovery process and avoiding the paper blizzard that often comes with generic production requests. Produce too many documents and it is a waste of your valuable time. Produce too little and you might not find what you need. Since most insurance agents no longer utilize paper files, knowing exactly what to extract out of a computer system could make or break your case.
I do not truly understand the rationale in suing the company adjuster in a lawsuit against the Insurance Company, since he has no independent duties apart from those of the Insurance Company. However, Directors and Officers of corporations owe fiduciary duties to corporate stockholders and to the Corporate business entity itself.
I was often amazed at what I could only discern as an argument by a Plaintiff’s attorney concerning an insurance claim where he had never bothered to read the policy or have a true of understanding of insurance.
Corporate Counsel is not properly the attorney to specifically respond for the Insurance Company to a suit against the Insurance Company.
Insurance Companies need to strive for competent officers and directors.
It appears that the recent change in The State of Michigan workers compensation act extends Michigan’s jurisdiction to all Michigan Residents no matter where in the US (or the World) the resident is hired, works or is injured.
For many small to mid-sized companies there is the overriding element of misplaced trust in the broker and a gross misunderstanding of their own duties.
I have not figured out why reinsurance is not fully regulated, as is insurance. I have heard the logic that the parties to the contract are equally sophisticated, and therefor no regulation is necessary. The problem with that logic is that it assumes a premise that is false. Many of the parties do not have equal bargaining power; they are not equally qualified to enter into the transaction and there are no real arms length negotiations. Many small companies spend more on reinsurance each year then they could possibly receive from the sale of the building they occupy.