• Posts by Andrea  DeField
    Posts by Andrea DeField
    Partner

    Andrea helps companies navigate disasters and swiftly recover insurance funds to restore operations with minimal impact to the bottom line. She leads the Firm’s cyber insurance practice.

    With an undergraduate degree focused on ...

Time 3 Minute Read

While America was tuned into the big game, one California insurance broker faced its own treacherous showdown in the form of a putative class action filed on February 8, 2024 stemming from a data breach. With cyber incidents still on the rise, this is a story we know all too well: an unauthorized third party gains access to personally identifiable information, the company eventually detects the threat actor and leadership must decide how to respond. Once notifications to the public go out, the individuals impacted often file suit to recover for their alleged harm.

Time 6 Minute Read

D&O, E&O, and other professional liability insurers often raise the insurability, or rather “uninsurability” loss defense. Consistent with our prior analysis of the ways the Ohio district court erred in assessing insurability, the Sixth Circuit’s recent decision in Huntington National Bank v. AIG outlines how courts should evaluate insurability defenses, particularly in the absence of public policy rendering a loss uninsurable.

Time 4 Minute Read

On August 21, 2023, Southern California was hit by its first tropical storm since 1997.  The remnants of Hurricane Hilary brought record-breaking rainfall and knocked out power for thousands of Californians. This storm follows devastating wildfires in Maui, which killed over 110 people, and hot tub temperatures off the coast of Florida: the ocean reached 101 degrees (it should be just 74-88 degrees). The ocean’s record temperatures may strengthen the severity and prolong the season of this year’s hurricanes, which already plague Florida. According to an Accuweather meteorologist, the warm weathers are “just inviting a big system to hit the state again this year.” His prediction may prove true: Tropical Storm Idalia, expected to strengthen into a major hurricane, is scheduled to hit Tampa on Wednesday.

Time 6 Minute Read

As Hawaii deals with the tragic aftermath of recent wildfires that have claimed more than 100 lives and more than 2,000 buildings in Maui, the potential economic fallout is just beginning to take shape. Some experts predict the losses related to the wildfires could result in the biggest disaster-related insurance payout in Hawaii’s history, with property damage alone surpassing $3.2 billion. This post explains the types of losses that usually follow wildfires and the insurance coverages that can respond to such losses. We also offer tips for homeowners and businesses to maximize their insurance recovery in the event of a catastrophic wildfire loss.

Time 6 Minute Read

Last week, we published a client alert discussing the importance of cyber and directors and officers liability insurance for companies and their executives to guard against cyber-related exposures.  In today’s ever-changing threat landscape, all organizations are at risk of damaging cyber incidents, and resulting investigations and lawsuits, underscoring the importance of utilizing all tools in a company’s risk mitigation toolkit, including insurance, to address these exposures. 

Time 3 Minute Read

Hardly a day passes without hearing about another major cyber incident. Recent studies show that cybersecurity incidents are becoming more common, but they are also costly, with some reports estimating an average cost of $9.44 million for breaches in the US. In recognition of this mounting problem, government agencies continue to ramp up enforcement and issue new rules, regulations and other guidance aimed at curbing cyber risks. Last week, the SEC adopted final rules requiring registered entities to periodically disclose material cybersecurity incidents and annually disclose their cybersecurity risk management, strategy and governance plans. In announcing the new rules, the SEC specifically noted that “an ever-increasing share of economic activity is dependent on electronic systems.” According to SEC Chair Gary Gensler, “Whether a company loses a factory in a fire—or millions of files in a cybersecurity incident—it may be material to investors.” 

Time 1 Minute Read

The Supreme Court of New Jersey recently agreed to hear ACE American Insurance Company’s appeal of an Appellate Division decision finding that a war exclusion in a property insurance policy did not preclude coverage for Merck & Co., Inc.’s claim stemming from a 2017 cyberattack. We previously reported about this case here.   

Time 5 Minute Read

The False Claims Act continues to make headlines. The DOJ announced earlier this year that its fiscal-year recoveries—across 351 settlements and judgments—exceeded $2.2 billion, which was the second-highest number of settlements recorded in a single year. More recently, the US Supreme Court heard oral argument and is poised to issue a decision in a closely-watched FCA case that could radically change the balance of power between the government and industry.

Time 4 Minute Read

The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division recently upheld a lower court’s finding that the war exclusion in a property insurance policy did not preclude coverage for Merck’s claim stemming from a 2017 cyberattack. The decision is appropriately being heralded as a huge win for policyholders and an affirmance of New Jersey’s longstanding history of protecting policyholders’ reasonable expectations. We previously blogged about developments relating to the war exclusion and the Merck case when it was initially heard by the Appellate Division.

Time 4 Minute Read

As discussed in a recent client alert, on March 24, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 837 into law, making it more difficult and costly for insurance policyholders of all sizes to sue insurers for bad faith by eliminating fee-shifting for most policyholders and requiring something “more than” negligence for bad faith claims.

Time 7 Minute Read

Last week, Kim Kardashian settled with the SEC after the SEC announced charges against the social-media and reality TV star for promoting a crypto-currency token called EthereumMax, on her Instagram account, where she boasts more than 330 million followers, without disclosing that she received payment for the promotion. Kardashian agreed to pay $1.26 million in penalties, including the $250,000 EthereumMax paid her for promoting its crypto-tokens to potential investors. SEC Chair Gary Gensler stated that Kardashian’s case is “a reminder to celebrities and others that the law requires them to disclose to the public when and how much they are paid to promote investing in securities.”

Time 1 Minute Read

Hurricane Ian is rapidly approaching the west coast of Florida and is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near the Tampa area within the coming days. While the exact track is still being determined, there is a chance the storm may also impact insureds in Georgia and South Carolina. Now is the time to activate your disaster plan and ensure that you have your relevant insurance policies in your possession and that you review them for critical deadlines. 

We put together an alert here with tips to help you and your business mitigate potential storm loss and maximize coverage.

The ...

Time 1 Minute Read

Despite the seemingly calm tropics, hurricane season is still going strong and will be for another two months. Is your business prepared in the event a hurricane hits? Andrea DeField and Alice Weeks recently published an article in Risk Management Magazine which is full of tips to minimize losses and maximize recovery in the event of a hurricane, including reviewing your coverages, assessing and mitigating damage, and submitting a timely and proper claim. Click here for more:

Time 3 Minute Read

In a recently published opinion, the Eleventh Circuit revisited – and departed from – its prior, unpublished decision in Cawthorn v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co., 791 F. App’x 60 (11th Cir. 2019). The Court held that a final judgment that exceeds all available liability policy limits, whether such judgment results from a jury verdict or a consensual settlement, constitutes an “excess judgment” that can be used to satisfy the causation requirement of an insurer bad faith claim in Florida.

Time 1 Minute Read
Effective April 1, 2022, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP has promoted insurance recovery lawyer Geoff Fehling, and 13 other attorneys, to partner. “Geoff hit the ground running from day one and quickly established himself as a valuable member of our practice and firm,” said outgoing insurance recovery practice head Walter Andrews. Andrews added, “Geoff’s promotion is well-deserved and a direct result of his hard work, client victories, and dedication to the firm.” “Geoff has become a go-to authority for clients and colleagues alike, especially in the area of directors and ...
Time 3 Minute Read

Recently, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals handed down a victory for policyholders when it affirmed a Circuit Court’s order compelling an insurer to produce its underwriting manual in a breach of contract action.   In People’s Trust Insurance Co. v. Foster, No. 1D21-845 (Fla. 1st DCA Jan. 26, 2022), the policyholder, Mr. Foster, filed a breach of contract claim against his insurer, People’s Trust, after People’s Trust failed to pay his insurance claim for damage caused to Mr. Foster’s home due to a leaking water pipe. People’s Trust denied Foster’s claim because “Foster’s pipe damage predated the policy’s inception.”

Time 3 Minute Read

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain issues have caused several major event organizers to cancel or postpone concerts, sporting events, and awards shows, among many other large-scale events. For example, this week, Elton John postponed tour concerts after testing positive for Covid-19; last week, Adele put on hold her much-anticipated Las Vegas residency over “delivery delays” and Covid-19 diagnoses among her team; last month, the NHL, NBA, and the NFL rescheduled major games, with the NHL citing concerns about “the fluid nature of federal travel restrictions,” and the NFL citing “medical advice” after “seeing a new, highly transmissible form of the virus;” and the Grammys postponed its January 31 awards show in Los Angeles—to now take place on April 3 in Las Vegas. The cancellations and postponements of these types of events often have major financial effects on its organizers and producers. Given the risk of substantial losses following the cancellation of big-ticket events, businesses should be aware that they can tap into event cancellation insurance to mitigate and protect against these risks.

Time 1 Minute Read

Hunton insurance attorneys, Walter Andrews, Andrea DeField, and Sima Kazmir, recently published an article in the Daily Business Review, discussing the scrutiny that companies face as a result of increased cyberattacks as well as tips for your next cyber insurance renewal.

A recent U.S. Treasury Department report noted that through June 30, 2021, the total value of suspicious activity associated with ransomware transactions was $590 million. The standalone cyber insurance industry has grown to address this pervasive risk. These major shifts in the cyber landscape mean that ...

Time 4 Minute Read

A commentator recently summed up the risk of ransomware attack in 2022: “we’re all screwed.” True enough. But that’s all the more reason to prepare right now. After all, the only thing worse than a ransomware attack is not having adequate insurance coverage when it occurs. The time to prepare is now.

Time 2 Minute Read

We are pleased to announce that Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP insurance coverage partner Lorelie S. Masters is one of only eight attorneys throughout the nation shortlisted for the Best in Insurance & Reinsurance category for the Women in Business Law Awards 2021. The award honors “the outstanding achievements of women in over thirty different practice areas in business law from across Americas. These are individuals who stand out as leaders amongst their peers and who have been instrumental to innovative approaches in their field.”

Time 1 Minute Read

This year, like last, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an extremely active hurricane season. As we write this post, the Gulf Coast, Mid-Atlantic, New York, and New England regions are still recovering from the devastation Ida has left in her path. Now is the time to ensure your insurance program is hurricane-ready. As reported in the client alert linked below, our insurance coverage team provides critical steps that you should take now to ensure that you protect your assets and maximize recovery in the unfortunate event of a hurricane claim.

Continue ...

Time 2 Minute Read

We are proud to share that Business Insurance has named Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance coverage associate, Latosha M. Ellis, one of the magazine’s 2021 Break Out Award winners. Business Insurance’s Break Out Awards honor 40 top professionals from around the country each year who are expected to be the next leaders in risk management and the property/casualty insurance field. Business Insurance reviewed hundreds of nominees, all of whom have worked in commercial insurance or related sectors for under 15 years. Out of those hundreds, Latosha was selected as one of the 40 honorees for 2021.

Time 9 Minute Read

The adage goes, “the best defense is a good offense.” This appears to be the approach that New York insurance regulators are advocating in response to what they deem “systemic risk[s] that occur when a widespread cyber incident damages many insureds at the same time, potentially swamping insurers with massive losses.” On February 4, 2021, the New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), which regulates the business of insurance in New York, has issued guidelines, in the Insurance Circular Letter No. 2 (2021) regarding “Cyber Insurance Risk Framework” (the “Guidelines”), calling on insurers to take more stringent measures in underwriting cyber risks. In the Guidelines, DFS cites the 2020 SolarWinds attack as an example of how managing growing cyber risk is “an urgent challenge for insurers.”

Time 4 Minute Read

It’s a cautionary tale of cyber fraud.  A title agent in a real estate transaction receives an email ostensibly from the mortgage lender providing instructions for transferring the loan proceeds into a settlement bank account.  After transferring the funds ($520,000), it becomes apparent that the transfer instructions came from an email address that was one letter off from the mortgage lender’s actual email address – it was a scam.  But it’s too late, the scammer has already withdrawn the funds from the settlement account and cannot be traced.

Time 8 Minute Read

In March, we reported on the initial filing of several securities class action suits arising from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). For example, at the start of the pandemic, shareholders of Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings, Ltd. filed a class action alleging that the company and certain officers violated the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. The lawsuit alleged that the cruise line made false and misleading statements about COVID-19 in order to persuade consumers to purchase cruises. This allegedly caused the share prices to be cut in half.

Time 4 Minute Read

Is it illegal for an insurer to pay the ransom demanded in a cyber extortion or ransomware attack on its insured? According to the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (“OFAC”) October 1, 2020 advisory (“OFAC Advisory”), in certain situations, it may be.

Time 2 Minute Read

The Hunton Andrews Kurth Insurance Coverage Practice Group is pleased to announce that insurance coverage associate Latosha M. Ellis has been honored by Virginia Lawyers Media, the publisher of Virginia Lawyers Weekly, in its 2020 class of “Up & Coming Lawyers.”

Time 3 Minute Read

As Texas and Louisiana brace for Hurricane Laura to make landfall, policyholders in the affected regions should be making last minute preparations to ensure their properties are covered in the storm’s wake.

Time 4 Minute Read

On June 29, in a development that may fundamentally change the landscape for California businesses which have sustained COVID-19 related business interruption loss, two California legislators amended pending legislation to address several of the most hotly contested issues regarding insurance recovery for these devastating losses.

Time 5 Minute Read

Following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks, protests against systematic racism in general, and police brutality in particular, have swept the globe. These protests have largely been peaceful, but a small, fractious group of individuals has used the protests as cover to incite violence, damage property, and loot businesses. While it might be cold comfort to the affected business owners to hear that property damage is not the norm, most have insurance that protects their pecuniary interest.[1]

Time 2 Minute Read

Energy industry: is your insurance sufficient to handle a major cyber event? Larry Bracken, Mike Levine, and I address this question and more in our recent article for Electric Light & Power, found here.  In the article, we identify three major gaps in cyber insurance that we routinely see when analyzing coverage for energy industry clients. The first major gap is coverage for bodily injury or property damage caused by a cyber event. Most cyber insurance policies exclude coverage for both bodily injury and property damage, even if caused by a cyber event. Meanwhile, many commercial general liability insurance policies now exclude cyber-related risks, thus creating a gap in coverage for these losses. The second gap we identify is coverage for fines and penalties, including those issued under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Even where cyber insurance policies expressly purport to cover fines and penalties, it is unclear if these may be deemed uninsurable as a matter of public policy in certain jurisdictions. Finally, we identify a gap in coverage for business income losses when the insured’s network, or that of a vendor on which they rely, goes down. That coverage is a key component of a robust cyber program, but one that is typically only offered for an additional premium.

Time 3 Minute Read

As the 2019 hurricane season peaks, the Bahamas and the Southeast United States have already endured a catastrophic storm. Hurricane Dorian not only tragically caused loss of life and substantial property damage, but it also led to the cancellation or postponement of major events, resulting in considerable economic losses for affected companies.

Time 3 Minute Read

In a significant win for policyholders, the Ninth Circuit rejected an insurer’s argument that the common meaning of “war” applied when interpreting a war exclusion, instead of the customary usage of the term, pursuant to Cal.  Civ. Code 1644, and revived NBC Universal’s attempt to recover at least $6.9 million in costs incurred to relocate the production of a television show from Jerusalem during the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Universal Cable Prods., et al., LLC v. Atl. Specialty Ins. Co., 2019 WL 3049034, at *10 (9th Cir. July 12, 2019).

Time 3 Minute Read

A coverage dispute arising as a result of property damage from Hurricane Frances, which occurred in 2004, will continue following a Florida appellate court decision in an action brought against Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Time 1 Minute Read

Hurricane Florence will affect the U.S. east coast later this week with significant damage to property and resulting business disruption.  Businesses far-removed from the impact zone also will be affected as manufacturing, retail, travel and supply chains, among other industries, are disrupted by the physical damage.  For those in the impact zone, knowing the fundamentals about your property insurance is critical.  For those in remote locations, now is a good time to refresh yourself as well, since post-storm disruptions and losses require prompt notice to insurers and fast action to help mitigate any resulting loss.  A failure on either front could jeopardize coverage.

Time 2 Minute Read

As we and our sister blogs have previously reported (see here, here, and here), the New York State Department of Financial Services enacted Cybsersecurity Requirements for Financial Services Companies, 23 NYCRR 500, on March 1, 2017. The first certification of compliance with this regulation is due today, February 15, 2018.

Time 2 Minute Read

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court held that a Chapter 558 notice of construction defect constitutes a “suit” under a commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy sufficient to trigger the insurer’s duty to defend. The opinion can be found here, and our prior blog posts on this case here and here.

Time 2 Minute Read

In an article appearing in Law360, Hunton & Williams LLP’s insurance coverage practice group head, Walter Andrews, weighs in on the Florida Supreme Court’s recent opinion in Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum and Forster Specialty Insurance Co. As I discussed in my previous blog post on the Altman Contractors case, available here, the Florida Supreme Court held that a Chapter 558 notice of construction defect constitutes a “alternative dispute resolution proceeding” under the definition of “suit” in a commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy so as to possibly trigger the insurer’s duty to defend. There, the policy defined “suit” as including “[a]ny other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in which such damages are claimed and to which the insured submits with our consent.”

Time 2 Minute Read

In today’s interconnected society, a cyber breach is inevitable. For energy companies in particular, the threat is even more acute as cyber security improvements lag behind the rapid digitalization in oil and gas operations. One recent cyber security report stated that 68% of respondents reported that their organization experienced at least one cyber compromise. And, just last week, it was disclosed that hackers used sophisticated malware, called “Triton,” to take control of a key safety device at a power plant in Saudi Arabia. Find our analysis of this latest attack on the blog here .

Time 1 Minute Read

Following the devastation of Hurricane Irma, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has entered an emergency order regarding insurance procedures for residential property policies to assist policyholders and streamline the claims process. The insurance commissioner’s order provides standardized requirements for claims reporting, grace periods for payment of premiums and performance of other duties by policyholders, and temporary postponement of cancellations and non-renewals. These include:

Time 1 Minute Read

In the wake of the continued aftermath from Hurricane Irma, Georgia Tech and Central Florida have decided to cancel their game, scheduled for this upcoming Saturday in Orlando. The cancellation joins a long and growing list of games cancelled due to hurricanes in recent weeks. Last weekend alone, Florida State and Louisiana Monroe; Miami and Arkansas State; South Florida and Connecticut; and Florida and Northern Colorado all had to scratch their contests due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma. The week before, Hurricane Harvey forced UTSA and Houston to cancel their game, while BYU and LSU had to relocate their game from Houston to New Orleans.

Time 3 Minute Read

It has been almost a week since Hurricane Harvey came barreling down the Texas coastline as a Category-4 storm. Since that time, parts of Texas and Louisiana have been inundated with flood waters as Harvey continues to wreak havoc. Despite the fact that many of those affected have been unable to reach their homes or business to fully assess the damage because of road closures and flood waters, insureds whose businesses or homes were in the storm’s path should notify their insurers in writing now. The initial written notice should include the following information:

  • Name and contact information for the insured;
  • The location of the loss;
  • The date and time of the loss (to the extent known); and
  • A brief description of the loss.
Time 1 Minute Read

As Texas and other Gulf coast areas make final storm preparations, now is a good time to gather insurance information and policies. Hunton & Williams insurance attorneys, Michael Levine and Andrea DeField provide important information in this linked Client Alert concerning insurance issues that are likely to arise in the storm’s wake, including potentially applicable coverages that could go overlooked without proper guidance.

For more information, please visit our Hurricane Insurance Recovery and Advisory center.

Time 1 Minute Read

Liability insurance policies generally have an exclusion barring coverage for claims brought by the insured’s own employees. Many times, especially in the hospitality industry, a liability insurance policy provides coverage for various different companies. A common question is whether claims brought by an employee of one insured against another insured are covered under such a policy.

Time 2 Minute Read

In 2015 and 2016, we discussed certain provisions of the then drafts of the Restatement of the Law, Liability insurance, including the Duty to Cooperate, here, and Duty to Defend, here and here. In late May 2017, the American Law Institute met to approve the Proposed Final Draft—the culmination of over seven years of work on this project. Not surprisingly, many of the issues discussed in the Restatement have been hotly contested by insurers. While in many instances, the reporters simply opted for the majority rule, in a few instances, the Restatement may seek to move the law on key ...

Time 1 Minute Read
Commercial general liability policies typically provide coverage to insureds for losses resulting from property damage caused by an “occurrence,” usually defined in the policy as “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same harmful conditions.” In the context of food recalls, however, the exact cause of the food damage, whether contamination, spoilage or something else, may be unknown. This creates uncertainty, and in turn, a coverage dispute, over whether the cause of damage was indeed accidental, and thus a covered ...
Time 3 Minute Read

Bear Stearns' insurers were recently dealt a fatal blow, when the trial court granted Bear Stearns' motion for summary judgment and denied all insurers' motions (and defenses). See J.P. Morgan Sec. Inc. v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 2017 N.Y. Slip Op. 27127, 11 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2017). The court found that the documentary and testamentary evidence presented by Bear Sterns overwhelmingly demonstrated that Bear Stearns' misconduct profited their customers instead of resulting in Bear Stearns' own "ill-gotten gains." The court also found the settlement amounts reached by Bear Stearns in the SEC action and the private civil suits to be reasonable.

Time 1 Minute Read

Attorneys Syed Ahmad and Jennifer White contributed to the Hunton Retail Law Resource’s “Recall Roundup” for the month of February with a discussion of Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Company’s suit against CRF Frozen Foods, LLC.  Starr seeks to rescind the a product contamination policy based on allegations that, during the insurance application process, CRF failed to disclose “violations” identified by Washington State and federal inspectors which, Starr claims, were likely to give rise to CRF’s 2016 recall of frozen vegetables.  See Starr Surplus Lines Ins. Co. v. CRF Frozen Foods, LLC, No. 1:17-cv-01030 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2017). Starr’s suit comes on the heels of its success before the Third Circuit earlier this year, when the court affirmed Starr’s rescission of the accidental contamination policy issued to Heinz.  Read more about the case.

Time 3 Minute Read

Last week, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated from areas downstream of the Oroville Dam in Northern California. Today, separate recommended and mandatory evacuation orders continue for roughly 50,000 San Jose residents due to rising flood waters along Coyote Creek. Between the Oroville Dam crisis and the torrential storms battering Northern California, California businesses face significant loss arising from the flooding, the threat of flooding, landslides and the like. Fortunately, some of the damage to property and businesses can be mitigated by insurance.

Time 1 Minute Read
Hunton and Williams LLP has published its 2016 Retail Industry Year in Review.  The Review discusses the key legal and regulatory developments that affected the retail industry last year.  In the Review, Hunton insurance coverage attorneys Syed Ahmad, Mike Levine and Jenn White discuss the lessons learned from insurance coverage cases that promise to have a lasting impact on retail cyber security and product contamination insurance.  As they explain, “Last year’s decisions are critical reminders that having the right insurance is key, and even unintentional missteps can ...
Time 3 Minute Read

On August 15, we wrote a blog post (which can be accessed here) about how the Eleventh Circuit certified to the Florida Supreme Court the issue of whether Florida’s pre-suit process in contractor cases, under Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes, constitutes a “suit” under CGL policy language, which would trigger the insurer’s duty to defend. On October 25, various construction trade organizations and a nonprofit policyholder advocacy group, United Policyholders, urged the Florida Supreme Court to rule in favor of Altman Contractor Inc.’s (“Altman”) interpretation that a construction defect notice issued under Chapter 558 constitutes a “suit” under CGL policies because such a reading would promote insureds and insurers to resolve disputes with the underlying plaintiff out of court and because CGL policies should be construed broadly to provide coverage for pre-litigation proceedings.

Time 3 Minute Read

On August 2nd, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals certified to the Florida Supreme Court the issue of whether the notice and repair process of Chapter 558, Florida Statutes constitutes a "suit" under widely used CGL policy language, thus triggering the insurer's duty to defend. Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Speciality Ins. Co., No. 15-12816 (11th Cir. Aug. 2, 2016).

Time 2 Minute Read

Last month, I wrote about State Farm's "Dirty Little Secret." After a non-jury trial, Florida's Second Judicial Circuit (Leon County) declared that data submitted by State Farm Florida Insurance Company ("State Farm") to Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation ("OIR"), as required by Fla. Stat. 624.424(10), constituted a "trade secret" under Florida law. The Circuit Court released its written opinion on May 2, 2016.

Time 3 Minute Read

On March 30, 2016, Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit (Leon County) declared that the personal and commercial residential policy data and report submitted by State Farm Florida Insurance Company (“State Farm”) to Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”) constitute trade secrets under Florida law and are thus immune from public disclosure under Florida’s Public Records Act. Beginning in the first quarter of 2014, State Farm began filing its Quarterly and Supplemental Reporting System (“QUASR”) reports with “trade secret” designation. On May 15, 2014, State Farm filed a declaratory action in Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit in and for Leon County, requesting that the Court declare: (1) State Farm’s QUASR data and report are trade secretes under 812.081 and 688.022, Fla. Stat.; and (2) that State Farm’s QUASR data and report are exempt from public disclosure under Florida’s Public Records Act because they are trade secret.

Time 1 Minute Read

On Thursday, Florida’s highest court held that prior to litigating a first-party bad faith action arising from an uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM”) case, an insured is entitled to a jury determination of liability and the full extent of potentially recoverable damages, even if in excess of policy limits.  Fridman v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Illinois, No. SC13-1607 (Fla. Feb. 25, 2016).  And, such a determination is binding on the insurer in the subsequent bad faith action so long as the parties had an opportunity for appellate review of any trial errors.

The ruling is premised on ...

Time 3 Minute Read

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals held on Wednesday that a general liability policy’s absolute employer’s liability provision did not preclude coverage for injuries sustained by an employee at a work event located on the property of an additional insured because of the policy’s separation of insureds provision. In Taylor v. Admiral Insurance Co., No. 3D14-720 (Fla. 3d DCA Feb. 10, 2016), Taylor, as assignee of Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Villa Vizcaya and Miami-Dade County (collectively “Assignors”), appealed an award of summary judgment in favor of Admiral Insurance Co. (“Admiral”) on her claims of breach of contract and common law and statutory bad faith. Admiral cross-appealed the trial court’s finding that the Assignors are additional insureds under the policy.

Time 2 Minute Read

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that a homeowner’s insurance policy provision restricting assignment without the insurer’s consent does not restrict the post-loss assignment of policy benefits to an emergency water mitigation company, reversing the trial court’s ruling on summary judgment. In Bioscience West, Inc. v. Gulfstream Prop. & Cas. Co., the homeowner suffered a water loss and hired Bioscience to perform emergency water mitigation. Case No. 2d14-3946 (Fla. 2d DCA Feb. 5, 2016). In return for its services, the homeowner assigned the benefits of her insurance policy to Bioscience under an agreement permitting Bioscience to directly bill the insurer. The insurer, Gulfstream Property and Casualty Company (Gulfstream), refused to pay Bioscience as assignee, citing the policy’s assignment provision. Bioscience sued Gulfstream for breach of contract. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Gulfstream, finding that the policy’s assignment provision precluded the post-loss assignment to Bioscience without the insurer’s consent.

Time 2 Minute Read

After our December 15, 2015 post about the Discussion Draft of the Restatement of the Law on Liability Insurance, the American Law Institute released Council Draft No. 2 on December 28, 2015. Relevant to my last post, Council Draft No. 2 contains revisions to §19 of Chapter 2, addressing the duty to defend. While the Reporters’ Memorandum notes that no substantive changes have been made to the black letter law of this section, the comments section has been revised to reflect a proposed intermediate approach. ALI Restatement of the Law: Liability Insurance, Council Draft No. 2 (not approved), Dec. 20, 2105 p. xiv. These revisions reflect a more moderate position than that taken in the previous Discussion Draft.

Time 2 Minute Read

At present, the general rule is that an insurer that breaches its duty to defend still may contest coverage. Signature Dev. Companies, Inc. v. Royal Ins. Co. of Am., 230 F.3d 1215, 1222 (10th Cir. 2000). However, the tides may soon change. The Discussion Draft of the Restatement of the Law on Liability Insurance proposes that “[a]n insurer that breaches the duty to defend a claim loses the right to assert any control over the defense or settlement of the claim and the right to contest coverage for the claim.” See § 19, “Consequences of Breach of the Duty to Defend, ALI Restatement of the Law: Liability Insurance, Discussion Draft (April 30, 2015), p. 147. The proposed Restatement explains, “[t]he forfeiture-of-coverage-defense rule discourages insurers from attempting to convert a duty-to-defend policy into an after-the-fact defense-cost-reimbursement policy.” Id. at 148. The Restatement further explains that insurers should be wary to outright deny a defense. Rather, it suggests that “[t]he proper procedure is to provide a defense subject to a reservation of rights and then, if appropriate, institute a declaratory-judgment action to terminate the duty to defend…If the insurer cannot, or does not choose to, file a declaratory-judgment action, it can preserve its coverage defenses by refusing to settle the claim while continuing to provide a defense (subject to the risks attendant to breach of the duty to make reasonable settlement decisions).” Id. at 149.1

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