With increased frequency in the past several months, General Counsel, P.C. corporate and litigation attorneys have been assisting clients, both prospectively by reviewing policies and reactively by negotiating with insurance companies. The below article was written by Clifton Mount, one of General Counsel, P.C.’s Senior Litigation Attorneys. If you have any questions about your business or personal insurance, whether related to coverage or an insurance dispute, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Mount at firstname.lastname@example.org or 571-932-9021.
Overall, insurance is viewed as a “social good.” Insurance is fundamentally “risk shifting” from an individual or business to an insurer. Insurance company advertisements and marketing want to project the image that the insurer is “on your side” and that “you are in good hands.”
These relationships seem to work well until an insured makes a claim. Insurers investigate claims, and sometimes are averse to paying them. If multiple parties are involved, one party’s carrier may wish to have another party’s carrier pay out. An insured’s carrier may seek to avoid paying out completely. Policies can be complex, and difficult to read, let alone interpret.
GCPC’s litigation group has had the occasion to pursue insurance coverage on three occasions recently on behalf of clients. Two of the cases involved “Commercial General Liability” (“CGL”) policies and the third is a personal line homeowner’s policy.
The first case involving a CGL policy was ultimately successfully resolved in favor of the GCPC client who wanted its coverage to be primary over its longstanding business partner’s policy. While the GCPC client’s policy language clearly made it primary, the carrier pushed back arguing longstanding industry practice controlled. The GCPC client was more concerned about preserving a lucrative business relationship, than having its own policy cover the loss. Fortunately, no suit had to be filed on behalf of the GCPC client, but had one been filed, the causes of action would have been “breach of contract” and “declaratory judgment.”
The second case also involved CGL policies issued to a GCPC client. In this instance, the GCPC client was a defendant in a multi-party products liability suit in South Carolina. The first order of business was to get one of the involved carriers to provide a defense to the GCPC client in the lawsuit. Recall, the two fundamental duties of every insurance policy are a duty to defend, and a duty to pay damages. Obviously, paying for legal representation in multi-party, products liability litigation can be extremely expensive, and having one’s insurer pay the legal costs is in the insured’s best interests.
In this second case, several policies covered different years for the GCPC client. “Tender” of the coverage was made to all potential insurers. One of the carriers was convinced – again short of filing suit – to pick up the defense of the lawsuit, and another may be convinced to share in the defense. Thorough research of all potential policies, stubborn pursuit of all potential insurers, and a good understanding of policy language and applicable law resulted in the GCPC client not having to pay for the defense of a potentially expensive and protracted litigation.
The third instance is a current work in progress pursuing potential third-party wrong doers, and the GCPC client’s homeowner’s insurer. While the insurer has initially denied coverage, GCPC is pushing back based on policy language and applicable law. A similar strategy of pursuing, aggressively, all fronts is being followed, and GCPC looks forward to a successful result.
While all insurer-insured relationships are not adversarial, enough justify knowing that legal assistance can be appropriate. General Counsel PC litigators are available to assist in these situations. If you have any questions about your insurance policies, want to ensure you have adequate coverage, or believe you are being unfairly denied coverage, contact Cliff Mount at email@example.com or 571-932-9021.