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BT Policyholder Protection Blog
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18 May 2015 Settlement Means Policyholders Will Have to Wait for Clarification of Proper Exhaustion Issue

It looks like policyholders will have to wait for any further answers to the question of whether and when a policyholder must show “proper” exhaustion of underlying policy limits in order to access its excess coverage.   That question was teed up for consideration by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in H.B. Fuller Company v. United States Fire Insurance Company. But in a letter filed with the 8th Circuit last week, the parties informed the court that they had agreed to settle the case, pending execution of the settlement by all of the parties. According to that letter, once the settlement agreement is signed, the parties will dismiss their respective appeals.   The settlement means the 8th Circuit won’t address whether, and under what…

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12 May 2015 Will Your Tech E&O Insurance Cover Your Retention of Someone Else’s Electronic Data?

Court Offers Narrow Interpretation of Cyberinsurance. If you’ve been paying attention to the news or any of your social media channels, you’ve probably heard people talking about cyberinsurance and that your company needs it. You might even have been told that cyberinsurance is a panacea for all risks related to cybersecurity and data privacy. To date, there has been very little publicly available litigation about the meaning of cyberinsurance policies. One federal court changed that with a decision issued on May 11, 2015, in Travelers Property Casualty Co. of America v. Federal Recovery Services, Inc., No. 2:14-cv-170 TS, slip op. (D. Utah May 11, 2015). Unfortunately, the decision ruled against the policyholder and offered a narrow interpretation of the cyberinsurance policy involved in the dispute….

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05 May 2015 Can Business Owners Get Insurance to Cover Losses from Riots, Vandalism and Civil Unrest?

The recent civil unrest in Baltimore, just like the mayhem that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, last year, is a stark reminder that we live in troubled times. While the events that lead to such occurrences are varied, and the societal issues that influence them can be widely debated, one thing is clear – the damage and destruction left in their wake is devastating.  Shops burn, glass storefronts are shattered, inventory is stolen and valuable property is otherwise vandalized. Luckily for business owners both directly and indirectly affected by these unfortunate events, they can and should turn to their business property insurers to cover what, in many instances, can be staggering losses.   First steps for obtaining coverage for losses from riots, vandalism and civil…

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01 May 2015 Policyholder Rights Under Seige in Illinois

A bill pending in the Illinois Senate threatens to undermine if not overturn two fundamental rights of policyholders under a policy with the duty to defend: (1) the right to a complete defense of an entire claim insured if any allegation is actually or potentially covered and (2) the right to independent counsel if there is a conflict of interest between the insurance company that pays for the defense and the policyholder being defended. Both of these rights have been established for decades by courts in Illinois and virtually every other state. See, e.g., Maryland Casualty Co. v. Peppers, 64 Ill.2d 187, 197-98, 355 N.E. 2d 24 (Ill. 1976). Illinois Senate Bill 1296 threatens to turn these bedrock principles into quicksand.   First, the bill…

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29 Apr 2015 Scott Godes Quoted in Law360 Article, “Cyberinsurance Thaw Hinges On Data-Sharing Bills”

Scott Godes, partner and member of the firm’s Policyholder Insurance Recovery Group, was recently quoted in a Law360 article, “Cyberinsurance Thaw Hinges On Data-Sharing Bills.”   This week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1560, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, and H.R. 1731, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015. The bills would create liability protections for companies that voluntarily share information on cyberthreat indicators and cyberattacks with each other and the federal government.   Scott was quoted saying, “In short, the bills should offer better protections against cybersecurity and eliminate liabilities for sharing information. That should mean fewer cyberattacks and less liability for policyholders. Or, better said, fewer cyberattacks, fewer losses and fewer claims. That all should make for a positive development when…

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27 Apr 2015 HOW DO HISTORICALLY LOW REINSURANCE RATES AFFECT HISTORICALLY LOW POLICYHOLDER SATISFACTION?

An article published on March 12, 2015, in the Risk Management Monitor reported on a recent worldwide policyholder survey demonstrating that insurance customer satisfaction with claims management is at an all-time low. At the same time, reinsurance rates are also being reported as the lowest in many years, contributing to the continuing “soft” market.  A “soft” market is typically good for policyholders who are buying or renewing insurance programs, so why the worldwide, pervasive dissatisfaction?   When reinsurance rates are low due to the historically high capacity in London, Bermuda and elsewhere, the cost of doing a primary and excess insurance business remains much lower than average. No major named hurricanes hit the U.S. in 2014. These factors contribute to the “softness” in the market…

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24 Apr 2015 YOU WANT MORE THAN ‘FULL COVERAGE’

A recent Indiana Supreme Court case addressed the question of what it means to ask an insurance agent for “full coverage.” At renewal time, policyholders often tell their insurance agent that they want “full coverage.” That term means different things to different people. The policyholder may be thinking of its property insurance limits in case a fire destroys the building and contents. They do not want to be underinsured– they want “full coverage.” At the same time, the agent may be thinking in terms of the types of coverage needed to fully insure the policyholder’s business (employment practices, business interruption, environmental, cyber, CGL). The agent may think in terms of the risks the policyholder needs to be insured against so they have “full coverage.”  …

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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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20 Apr 2015 Will Cyberinsurance Cover Target’s $19 Million MasterCard Settlement?

Another credit card in the mail? If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably received a new credit or debit card in the mail, attached by rubber cement to a cover letter explaining that your card number could have been compromised – so you ended up with replacement cards. You might even have received new cards more than once over the past five years. Perhaps you even received a new card with an explanation that after the data breach at Target Corporation, your “issuing bank” – the bank that issued you the credit or debit card – decided to send you a new card. And maybe you signed your card, called to activate it, replaced your old card, and didn’t give a second thought to it….

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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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