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BT Policyholder Protection Blog
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30 Aug 2017 Fast-Moving Texas Insurance Law Changes: Starting Sept. 1, New Insurance Law Limits What a Policyholder May Recover

  House Bill 1774, passed by the Texas legislature in May, becomes law on Sept. 1 – just as Texans begin to assess the damages wrought by Hurricane Harvey. This law amends the Texas Insurance Code in a number of important ways, especially regarding what a policyholder can recover when an insurer doesn’t promptly pay a claim.   The new law applies to claims (not lawsuits) made on or after Sept. 1. A Texas company that owns property damaged in this storm should consider submitting a claim by Aug. 31.   The new law makes these important changes:   Waiting period. Starting with claims made as of Sept. 1, a policyholder generally will have to wait 61 days after giving notice to the insurance company…

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19 Jul 2016 Don’t Forget About Pre-Judgment Interest on Wrongfully Withheld Policy Benefits

  Has your insurer informed you that belated payment of policy benefits somehow “cures” any prior delay and insulates the insurer from any further liability?   Don’t believe it. In fact, under California law a wide range of damages are potentially available for an insurer’s failure to timely pay an insurance claim under a bad faith theory. These include, among other things, consequential damages for the insurer’s tortious conduct – such as attorneys’ fees incurred in seeking the subject policy benefits – and punitive damages upon a proper showing.   Bad faith damages, however, do not constitute the sole remaining policyholder remedy for wrongfully withheld policy benefits.  Indeed, insureds often forget that pre-judgment interest is available in instances where the benefits sought are capable of…

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15 Dec 2015 Make Sure You Know Which State’s Law Applies to Your Coverage Claim

It is a situation we have seen time and again, including in several recent matters: a policyholder headquartered in State A is sued by a claimant alleging injury at a location the policyholder owns in State B. In the same circumstances and under the same policy language, the law of State A would require the carrier to cover the suit but the law of State B would not. This drastic difference in outcome is common due to the sometimes vast differences in coverage law from state to state. The threshold question of which state’s law applies often makes all the difference between coverage and no coverage.   So, if the policyholder wants the law of State A to apply, should it sue its carrier in…

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20 Nov 2015 Barnes & Thornburg Bronze Sponsor of the 2015 ABA Women in Litigation Conference Kara Cleary and Andrea Warren Provide Some Key Takeaways for Policyholders Discussed at the Conference

Barnes & Thornburg was proud to be a bronze sponsor at this year’s ABA Women in Litigation Conference held in Chicago from Nov. 11-13. Kara Cleary and Andrea Warren of the firm’s Insurance Recovery and Counseling Practice Group attended the conference, which featured a host of excellent panels ranging from hot topics in insurance coverage to product liability litigation, as well as jury selection and trial tips. A large focus of the conference also was dedicated to empowering female litigators in the courtroom and at their firms. Some key takeaways include:   the rise of privacy claims and types of policies that can respond; the rise of false claims act suits and potential coverage issues relating to the same; and jury selection tips for insurance…

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16 Nov 2015 2.4 Million Reasons to Monitor Claim Costs: Five Lessons From a Barnes & Thornburg Victory

Employers should regularly and carefully monitor the cost of claims even if those claims are handled by a major insurance company or third-party administrator. That is the key takeaway from the Nov. 10, 2015, decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and the earlier decision by a federal magistrate who presided over a bench trial and awarded $2.4 million to our client Georgia Operators Self Insurers Fund (Georgia Fund) for claims mishandling by its third-party administrator PMA Management Corp. That and other lessons are explained below.   Lesson #1: Monitor Claim Costs and Claim Handling   The Georgia Fund is a not-for-profit entity formed by most McDonald’s franchise owners in Georgia so they can self-insure their workers compensation risks. From 2008…

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13 Jul 2015 Texas Supreme Court to Decide Key Coverage Question on Policyholders’ Rights

In recognition of the opening of our Dallas, Texas, office, this week’s blog focuses on an important Texas Supreme Court decision anticipated by policyholders and insurers to define the manner in which policyholders may resolve disputes with claimants after an insurer wrongfully denies a defense and coverage.   Seger, et al. v. Yorkshire Ins. Co., Ltd. And Ocean Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. (Case No. 13-0673)  is currently pending before the Texas Supreme Court for decision.  Oral argument has been set for Sept. 15, 2015.  Amicus curiae briefs have been filed by the American Insurance Association, the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America, Lloyd’s America, Inc., the Texas Insurance Coverage League and the Texas Civil Justice League.  Both sides of this dispute have weighed in heavily on…

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21 Apr 2015 UPDATE: Georgia Supreme Court Sides with Insurer in Settlement Rights Fight

I previously reported that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit had certified questions to the Supreme Court of Georgia regarding the rights of an insurer to refuse to consent to a settlement and, thereby, absolve itself of any payment obligation for any settlement entered into by the policyholder. See Piedmont Office Realty Trust v. XL Specialty Ins. Co., No. 14-11987 (11th Cir. Oct. 21, 2014). On April 20, 2015, the Supreme Court of Georgia sided with the insurer. See Piedmont Office Realty Trust v. XL Specialty Ins. Co., No. S15Q0418 (Ga. Apr. 20, 2015). The opinion creates a Hobson’s choice for policyholders wishing to settle underlying lawsuits, even in cases where those insurers expressly agreed in their policies that they would…

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17 Apr 2015 Best Practices in Managing Insurance Claims

Join Barnes & Thornburg insurance recovery attorneys on Tuesday, April 28, from 3 – 4:30 p.m. for a discussion regarding best practices in managing insurance claims.   During this webinar, featured speakers Kara Cleary, Adam Hollander and Andrea Warren will address:   The Importance of Choice of Law This overview will identify several fundamental variations in substantive state coverage law, different choice of law approaches throughout the country, and choice of law issues that all policyholders should consider to optimize their chances for a successful recovery.   Top Ten Tips for Pre-Litigation Coverage Practice This practical assessment will highlight the importance of initial communication with your carriers and provide best practices for getting your claim paid without litigation—or improving your position if coverage litigation is…

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16 Apr 2015 Minnesota Courts Address Statutory Procedures for Claims Against Insurance Companies – Part 2 of 2

Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued opinions concerning separate statutory requirements for maintaining actions against insurance companies. In the first, the Court of Appeals addressed whether a defendant’s liability insurer could be added as a garnishee to the underlying lawsuit under Minnesota’s garnishment statute. Here, we discuss the second, in which the Supreme Court clarified when service of process on a nonresident insurer served under Minnesota’s alternative service of process statute is deemed to be “made” for purposes of applying a limitations period. Click here to read Part 1 of this post.   Meeker v. IDS Property Casualty Ins. Co., No. A13-1302, 2015 WL 1545281 (Minn. April 8, 2015) For limitations purposes, an action against a nonresident insurer…

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15 Apr 2015 Minnesota Courts Address Statutory Procedures for Claims Against Insurance Companies – Part 1 of 2

Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued opinions concerning separate statutory requirements for maintaining actions against insurance companies. In the first, the Court of Appeals addressed whether a defendant’s liability insurer could be added as a garnishee to the underlying lawsuit under Minnesota’s garnishment statute. In the second, the Supreme Court clarified when service of process on a nonresident insurer under Minnesota’s alternative service of process statute is deemed to be “made” for purposes of applying a limitations period. For the sake of brevity, we’re discussing the opinions separately in a two-part blog post.   Michaels v. First USA Title, LLC, No. A14-0931, 2015 WL 1514018 (Minn. App. April 6, 2015) A policyholder defendant’s failure to provide timely notice…

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