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BT Policyholder Protection Blog
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13 May 2016 Scott Godes Quoted in Law360, “4 Tips for Law Firms to Maximize Cyber Coverage”

Scott Godes, partner and co-chair of the firm’s Data Security and Privacy Practice Group, was recently quoted in “4 Tips for Law Firms to Maximize Cyber Coverage,” published by Law360.   The article notes that law firms handle a wide variety of confidential client data, and comments on the importance of having insurance to cover related risks.  The article gives tips about policy terms, conditions, and exclusions that, in a perfect world, law firms should think about when buying coverage.   Law360 asked Scott about using the cloud and outsourcing data storage and processing.  Scott is quoted saying, “To the extent a law firm is relying on cloud providers for storage, processing or some other service, ‘cloud’ or ‘outsourced support’ should be included in the…

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12 May 2016 Georgia Supreme Court Expands Scope of Absolute Pollution Exclusion

The Georgia Supreme Court recently addressed and reversed the Georgia Court of Appeals on the question of whether lead paint is a “pollutant” for purposes of an exclusion within a commercial general liability.   In a recent case, Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company v. Smith, a tenant sued her landlord for personal injury after her daughter ingested lead-based paint found in the home.  The landlord’s commercial general liability insurer brought a declaratory judgment action to determine whether the personal injury claim was excluded under the policy’s absolute pollution exclusion.  See 2016 WL 1085397 (Ga. Mar. 21, 2016).   The policy defined “pollutant” as “any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste.”  Id. at…

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06 May 2016 When a “Pollutant by Any Other Name” Is Not a Pollutant

In most jurisdictions, determining whether a pollution exclusion in a commercial general liability (CGL) policy precludes coverage for a particular claim can be a thorny issue. Under some historical policies, coverage may depend on factual arguments over whether the pollution was “sudden and accidental” or gradual. Under others containing so-called “absolute” pollution exclusions, coverage may depend on whether or not the claim arises out of “traditional” environmental pollution (for example, cleanup of groundwater in response to a governmental demand vs. toxic tort claims based on workplace exposure).   Indiana has traditionally taken a different approach to the pollution exclusion than most other jurisdictions. Rather than become entangled in factual thickets over whether pollution is sudden or gradual, or arises in a “traditional” environmental context, Indiana…

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26 Apr 2016 Does a CGL Insurance Policy Cover a Data Breach? The Fourth Circuit Says ‘Yes’

If you have anything to do with cybersecurity, privacy, or insurance, you undoubtedly have heard that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in April that a Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policy provides coverage for a data breach, in the case Travelers Indemnity v. Portal Healthcare Solutions.  In the last few years, insurance companies have been marketing cyber insurance policies as the product designed for cybersecurity and privacy risks.  So how could it be that a CGL insurance policy – which insurance company lawyers proclaim were not “meant” to cover data breaches – provides coverage for data breaches?  We discuss the well-reasoned Portal Healthcare decision, which bolsters policyholders’ rights to collect under CGL policies, below.   The first question when reviewing…

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25 Apr 2016 Scott Godes quoted in Legaltech News Article “Cyberinsurance: A Necessary Protection in the Digital Era?”

Scott Godes, partner and co-chair of the firm’s Data Security and Privacy Practice Group, was recently quoted in a Legaltech News article, “Cyberinsurance: A Necessary Protection in the Digital Era?”   Between 2005 and 2015, more than 5,000 must-report data breach incidents were tracked; and since 2002, breach notification laws have been enacted in 47 states. Given the rising number of breaches and response costs, companies are turning to cyberinsurance for remediation.   Scott is quoted numerous times within the article, including one note stating, “A data breach, and several courts have agreed, particularly when the information is put online, involves the publication of materials that violates a person’s right to privacy. And yet, notwithstanding this good case law, for policyholders, insurance companies continue to…

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29 Mar 2016 Recent Presentations Demonstrate Importance of Choice of Law

  The law that applies to an insurance contract can be very important. I recently presented on this important fact during a Feb. 17 Minnesota CLE webinar entitled, “Insurance Coverage for Punitive Damages in Minnesota,” and on Feb. 20 at the ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee’s mid-year meeting on “Insurance Transfer in Asset Deals/Stock Deals.” While on their face these two presentations appear to be very different, what struck me was the overriding fact that the outcome of a coverage dispute involving either issue would depend heavily on what state’s law applied.   When dealing with coverage for punitive damages, the states are split on whether, as a matter of public policy, a policyholder should be allowed to obtain coverage for punitive damages awards. The…

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25 Mar 2016 Are You Prepared for a Natural Disaster? Five Tips for Preparing for a Natural Disaster

  Spring is here, which means natural disaster season is here as well. While spring brings a welcome change in the weather in many areas of the country, it often also brings floods, tornados, hurricanes and other disasters that can cause substantial property damage and business disruption. Now is a good time for policyholders to make sure they are as prepared as they can be in the event of an unexpected property loss. Addressing a few basic but sometimes overlooked issues before being thrust into the chaotic aftermath of a natural disaster can go a long way toward making the insurance recovery process more efficient.   Review and understand your policies. Do you know where to find your company’s property insurance policies when you really need…

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24 Mar 2016 Will The Fourth Circuit Overturn a Decision Finding CGL Coverage For a Data Breach?

  As reported by Law360’s Jeff Sistrunk, this week, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hear appellate arguments as to whether a Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policy provides coverage for a data breach:   The Fourth Circuit will hear arguments Thursday on whether Travelers must defend a medical records company against a class claim that its failure to secure a server caused records to be accessible to unauthorized users, a case experts say will have an impact on the availability of data breach coverage under commercial general liability policies.   Policyholders should hope that the Fourth Circuit’s rate of reversal – reported to be 4.2 percent for “Other U.S. Civil” and 7.3 percent for “Other Private Civil” cases – will give…

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16 Mar 2016 Scott Godes Quoted in Law360: Insurance Article “Data Breach Report Shows Cyberinsurance Not A Cure-All”

  Scott Godes, partner and co-chair of the firm’s Data Security and Privacy Practice Group, was recently quoted in a Law360: Insurance article, “Data Breach Report Shows Cyberinsurance Not A Cure-All.”   The article discusses how companies are managing cyber risks and turning to cyberinsurance policies to handle data breaches.  The article highlights a recent study discussing the size and scope of common data breaches and whether cyberinsurance policies would respond to such incidents.   Scott is quoted in the article saying, “There are some policies that have a retention or deductible that can be significantly lower for the costs of forensic investigation, breach letters or crisis management than the deductible for putative class actions and dealing with regulatory investigations.”   Read the full article here….

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15 Mar 2016 Capitalizing on Sites with Environmental Property Damage: Is there really a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow?

  When a company learns that it has a site suffering from environmental property damage, “profit” is the last thing on that company’s mind. Rather, the terms that company is more likely thinking about in this situation are those like losses, risk, environmental agency scrutiny, costly and lengthy remediation, bad press, etc. A recent article in the New York Times titled “Turning Polluted Properties Into Profits” takes an alternative view of the value of sites with environmental property damage.   The article discusses a new business model and group of investors who are actively seeking out these properties in order to buy them, clean them up, then sell them for a profit. However, as the article noted: “insurance is key.”   Finding insurance to help…

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