By Thomas R. Newman
The covenant of good faith and fair dealing that is implied by law in every liability insurance policy requires the insurer to concern itself with the interests and welfare of the insured as well as its own interests and welfare, and in so doing “the insurer at the very least must itself consider and determine whether or not a settlement offer is in the best interest of the insured.” Garner v. American Mut. Liability Ins. Co., 31 Cal. App. 3d 843, 847-848, 107 Cal. Rptr. 604, 607 (3d Dist 1973). If it is, as where liability is clear and the injuries or damages are likely to result in a judgment in excess of the policy limits, some courts have held that the insurer has an affirmative duty to initiate settlement negotiations. Goheagan v. American Vehicle Ins. Co., 107 So. 3d 433, 438 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1012); Noonan v. Vermont Mut. Ins. Co., 761 F. Supp. 2d 1330 (M.D. Fla. 2010)(Florida law); SRM, Inc. v. Great Am. Ins. Co., 798 F.3d 1322, 1323 (10th Cir. 2015)(Oklahoma law)(“a primary insurer owes its insured a duty to initiate settlement negotiations with a third-party claimant if the insured’s liability to the claimant is clear and the insured likely will be held liable for more than its insurance will cover”).
Continue reading Insurer’s Duty to Initiate Settlement Discussion
By Sheila Raftery Wiggins
The Supreme Court of New Jersey – the highest court in New Jersey – held that the failure to comply with the notice provisions of the claims-made policy constitutes a breach of the policy, permitting the insurer to decline coverage to a sophisticated insured without demonstrating prejudice to the insurer caused by the delay.
We previously reported on where the Appellate Division ruled, in Templo Fuente de Vida Corp. and Fuente Properties, Inc., that for a claims-made policy, the policy holder is to provide notice of a claim: (1) during the same policy period in which the policyholder received the claim and (2) “as soon as practicable.” Otherwise, the claim may be denied because of late notice. The New Jersey Appellate Division determined that six months or more is not “as soon as practicable.” Continue reading No Prejudice in New Jersey Needed to Bar Coverage to Sophisticated Insured for Delay in Notice Under Claims-Made Policy
For a claims-made policy, the policy holder is to provide notice of a claim: (1) during the same policy period in which the policyholder received the claim and (2) “as soon as practicable.” Otherwise, the claim may be denied because of late notice. New Jersey has determined that six months or more is not “as soon as practicable.”
Holding: The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, held in Templo Fuente de Vida Corp. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, P.A., that: (1) notice of a claim was not provided “as soon as practicable” when sent six months after service on the insured of the underlying complaint and (2) an insurer on a claims-made policy does not have to show that it was prejudiced by the late notice.
Continue reading Six-Month Delay Bars Coverage in NJ Under Claims-Made Policy
Insurers often rely upon coverage counsel to advise them of their duties and obligations with respect to claims for coverage by their insureds and then take that advice and communicate it in whole or in part to their insureds. The expectation is that the advice of counsel is privileged even if it is thereafter embraced by the insurer and communicated to the insured. But is it? No, said a trial court in West Virginia, where an insured sought from coverage counsel for the insurer opinion letters the counsel had written to the insurer on similar claims (i.e., claims not involved in the litigation between the insured and the insurer). Continue reading What I Tell You is Privileged and Protected From Discovery (Even if You Embrace It and Reiterate It to Your Insured)
In a decision notable for several reasons, the New York State Court of Appeals—the state’s highest court—reversed itself in K2 Investment Group, LLC v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co. [21 NY3d 384 (2014)] and reaffirmed its earlier ruling in Servidone Construction Corp. v. Security Insurance Company of Hartford [64 NY2d 419 (1985)].
In doing so, the court reestablished the rule it pronounced in Servidone when it held that a liability insurer who determines not to provide a defense to its insured may still contest its duty to indemnify on the basis of an exclusion to coverage.
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