The recent wildfires in California are racking up staggering losses for insurers, and are expected to rise above 3.3 billion dollars. The accumulated damages represent claims from thousands of homes that were lost or partially damaged, as well as those from thousands of destroyed cars. As the fires come under control, early investigations looking for the cause of the blaze are focusing on the possibility that high winds downed trees into power lines owned by the Pacific Gas and Electric company (PG&E). In order to prove that PG&E was to blame in the fires, however, investigators will have to uncover evidence, and this evidence may have been destroyed in the fire. This is a concern that investigators face not just when dealing with massive fires like the ones in Sonoma and Napa, but also when dealing with individual claims for fires that destroy or damage homes or businesses.
It is certainly a commonplace to spot stories in the media where insurers' bad-faith conduct is alleged. The focus of wrongful behavior is often on claims of unresponsiveness to policyholders' lawful demands or issued checks that don't fully cover costs.
There are some classic and all-too-common villain tropes in the movies: the Scrooge-type miser, the megalomaniac and the greedy, faceless corporation. Add insurance companies to that list. Movies show them as heartless organizations denied their customers in the name of extra profit. Whether it's a cartoon like The Incredibles or the John Grisham novel-turned-movie The Rainmaker, there's a public perception that insurance companies are adversarial.
The principals of national insurer OneBeacon Insurance thought they had it duly figured out and were sufficiently protected by language in an insurance policy that addressed the limits of their liability to an insured in any claim for losses and damages.
Although some people might view it as ironical, it really isn't surprising that insurance companies -- which safeguard the interests of others and stand ready to help mitigate risk when its downsides materialize -- also need help sometimes when they face adverse factors threatening their business and professional standing.
Although the below case pertains to an insurance matter in California, it deals centrally with the issue of "materiality," which can rise to a level of importance in some disputes regardless of where they occur.
Auto insurers know that the list of potential reasons for a claim is lengthy and varies from state to state. A ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court could soon make that claims list longer nationwide. If a person is injured in a car accident, they may be able to seek recovery through an insurance claim, but what if a person is injured simply while reaching into their vehicle?
Hacking, a proliferation in so-called "lateral hiring," complex business transactions, confusion and disagreement surrounding estate administration matters -- these and a few additional matters spell significant concerns for insurance companies in Colorado and nationally that provide risk coverage for attorneys and law firms through legal malpractice policies.
From the perspective of many reputable insurance companies in Colorado and nationally that routinely seek to timely and fully hold up their end of the bargain regarding an insured's claim, it sometimes seems that they face an extra-contractual challenge when responding to a payment demand.
This much is undisputed: In June 2014, comedian Tracy Morgan and three other passengers riding in a limousine were rear-ended by a tractor-trailer rig. One passenger died. Another had a compound leg fracture. And, as noted in one recent media recounting of the crash, "Morgan suffered a brain injury and broke his leg and ribs."