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BT Policyholder Protection Blog
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25 May 2018 Minnesota Court of Appeals Confirms Agent Comments Can Bind Insurer

  In January 2017, a jury awarded Prospect Foundry $53,300 on a counterclaim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. At the heart of the case was a representation by an insurance agent that certain workers’ compensation claims would be closed, or reserves reduced, allowing Prospect to receive a dividend on their workers’ compensation insurance premiums.   The insurer appealed, claiming in part that Prospect’s description of the representations of the agent should not have been permitted into evidence. In an April 16 decision, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed in Western Nat’l Mut. Ins. Co. v. Prospect Foundry, A17-0992, 2018 WL 1787687 (Minn. Ct. App. April 16, 2018).  In relevant part, the court held:   In the past, Minnesota…

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24 May 2018 The Cloud: Selected Benefits, Risks, and Insurance Coverage Issues – Part 2

This article is the second part in the series, The Cloud: Selected Benefits, Risks, and Insurance Coverage Issues. It was prepared in connection with PLI’s Cloud Computing conference. It was authored by Barnes & Thornburg attorneys, Scott Godes, Kara Cleary, Heidi Fessler and Michael Baumert.   Insurance Coverage Issues for the Cloud   In addition to the insurance best practices mentioned above, the cloud can raise multiple insurance issues that should be considered carefully.  For example, how would insurance provide coverage to the cloud provider or the user if there were a data breach or denial of service attack?  But, there are other events in the cyberspace that both cloud providers and users should consider, such as the situation where users cannot access the cloud…

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17 May 2018 Upcoming Webinar: Insurance Coverage for Opioid Litigation and Lessons for Other Types of Claims

  The number of lawsuits involving opioid pharmaceuticals continues to skyrocket. Hundreds of cases have been filed nationwide, many of which have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation, and the trend shows no signs of stopping soon. Related litigation over the scope of insurance coverage available for these lawsuits also continues to increase, and courts have begun to issue decisions addressing insurers’ coverage obligations. Other coverage disputes are just beginning to wind their way through the courts. This webinar will focus on insurance coverage for opioid litigation, including:   What types of policies might provide coverage for opioid claims The most commonly disputed or litigated coverage issues The current landscape of judicial decisions regarding coverage for opioid litigation What the future may hold for opioid coverage…

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27 Feb 2018 The Tenth Circuit Hands Another Win to Policyholders Seeking to Insure Defective Workmanship By Their Subcontractors

  Your company, an engineering firm, is hired by an agent for coal-fired plants to serve as contractor on projects to build jet bubbling reactors, which eliminate contaminants from the plants’ exhaust.  Your company, in turn, subcontracts the engineering and construction of the reactors’ internal components to another firm.  After the contractor’s work is done, the plants discover that the components are defective, causing the reactors to deform, crack or even collapse.   The agent notifies your company of the problem and asserts that it is liable for the costs of repairing and replacing the defective components, an amount which will run well into the hundreds of millions of dollars.   Your company tenders the claim under its commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy, which says that…

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25 Jan 2018 Avoid Insurance Related Risks to Help Your Bottom Line

  With the new year in full gear, your company likely has set revenue and growth goals for 2018. Unfortunately, just one uninsured or underinsured loss can often derail these efforts. Therefore, this is a great time for companies to review their insurance program and keep some of these best practices in mind:   First, check out Ken Gorenberg’s recent post that provides some great “New Year’s Resolutions for Policyholders.”   Consider reviewing your claims history over the last few years. Are there trends? Are there steps that might be available to your company to mitigate those particular risks? Moreover, how does your insurance program’s coverage limits align with those risks?   Does your company have procedures in place to determine when and how to…

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09 Jan 2018 New Year’s Resolutions for Policyholders

  The champagne bottles are empty, the football games are over, and the kids are back in school. That can only mean one thing – it’s time for New Year’s resolutions! If you are having a hard time coming up with the perfect resolution for 2018, here are some ideas for policyholders.   “I resolve to review at least the declarations pages of all my policies.” Confirm that the insured’s name is legally accurate and spelled correctly and that its address is up to date. Make sure the policy isn’t about to expire without renewal or replacement, unless you’ve already decided you don’t need the coverage anymore. Check that the coverages you selected during the application or renewal process are included and that the limits…

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06 Mar 2017 Overcoming That Sinking Feeling Beating Earth Movement Exclusions in CGL Policies

  Co-authored by John Corbett and Andy Detherage.   The recent rainstorms in California rightly have been hailed as the end of a lengthy drought.  The inches of rain which fell in the span of a week have filled reservoirs and raised the water table in the parched ground.  Such a large volume of water, however, increases the danger of landslides in California’s notoriously unconsolidated hillsides and bluffs, and with it, the possibility of disputes over whether particular ground movement claims are covered by their liability policies.   Let’s look at a hypothetical example.  XYZ Construction is laying pipes under an existing street at the top of a bluff.  In the course of digging trenches to hold the pipes, one of XYZ’s diggers accidentally breaks…

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28 Nov 2016 Exercise Your Bargaining Power at Renewal Time

  Co-authored by Scott Godes and John Fischer.   As the end of the year approaches, many policyholders are facing Jan. 1 renewals of their insurance programs or are looking at replacing part or all of their programs with new policies or carriers. Some are considering augmenting their insurance programs with specialty coverages pertinent to their particular needs. This is a friendly reminder to those whose renewals are coming up (and an advance reminder to those with renewal dates throughout the year) that although insurance policies frequently are made up of boilerplate language on pre-printed forms, some carriers will amend their coverages with endorsements that can enhance the coverages offered. Also, not all carriers’ standard forms are the same.   The opportunity to obtain coverage enhancements is…

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11 Oct 2016 When the Damage is Done Are You Prepared to Litigate Against Your Insurance Company?

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, there will certainly be a wave of claims and possible denials of coverage by insurance companies.  Before the storm hit, we heard a great deal about “preparedness” for the storm.  But, how prepared is your company if it has to litigate a claim against its insurance company?  Litigation against any party is often a costly and lengthy process.  Insurance coverage disputes are no different and often involve more aggressive tactics by the insurance company early in the case.   Here are some best practices for companies facing insurance coverage denials:   Re-review the denial letter and consider whether litigation is the best strategy You may want to consider other tactics against the insurance company, like using renewal time or…

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12 Jul 2016 In Determining Duty to Defend, Wisconsin Supreme Court Clarifies Four-Corners Rule

  In coverage actions, policyholders (and their attorneys) frequently rely on the well-accepted principle that an insurer’s duty to defend is broader than its duty to indemnify. Indeed, given the ever-escalating costs of litigation, obtaining coverage for a policyholder’s defense can be just as, if not more, important than obtaining coverage for the resulting settlement or judgment.   Recently, however, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued two opinions that serve as reminders that an insurer’s duty to defend, while broad, is not unlimited. The cases provide insight into how courts evaluate an insurer’s duty to defend and reveal some factors policyholders should consider when confronted with an insurer that denies such coverage.   Marks v. Houston Casualty Company   In Marks v. Houston Casualty Company, No….

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