Top 10 Tips for Insurance Policyholders (Fall 2020)

John A. Gibbons

1. Assess the policies you have and reassess the policies you should buy in the future.

2020 has brought a host of unwelcome events: pandemics, fires, floods, cyberattacks, financial failures, etc. An insurance program tailored to the risks and business opportunities of your specific company can provide for recovery during dark times, and specialized insurance products can help you safely expand your business. It is time to consider how tailored your current program is, and how you can better align insurance assets to your business in the future.

2. Use indemnities and additional insured status to expand your insurance assets.

Everyday business for many companies involves the use of terms and conditions; sales or services orders; and leases that address indemnification, minimum insurance requirements, and additional insured status. A well-thought-out use of additional insured status can allow you to leverage the insurance assets and insurance premiums of counterparties.

3. Ensure that you get the full benefits of your liability and property insurances.

Insurance policies provide many coverages, policy limits, and extensions that may not be readily apparent, and all of which may provide substantial financial assistance in the event of a loss. In addition, specialized forms of insurance, additional riders, or policy wording upgrades can better tailor policies to your specific business attributes. Use the renewal season to explore your options.

4. Avoid “conventional wisdom” about what is or is not covered.

With insurance, words matter! In fact, the wording determines the outcome. Do not accept statements about what others think a policy does or should cover. For example, claims for intentional wrongdoing and punitive damages often are covered by liability policies. Likewise, losses from your supply chain may be covered under your property policies. Non-payments of debts and breaches of contractual promises are covered under various forms of policies. Let the words lead you to coverage.

5. Give notice once you know of a loss or claim.

Typically, notice should be given soon after a loss, claim, or lawsuit, but remember that a delay in giving notice will not necessarily result in the loss of coverage. Consider the potentially applicable insurance assets that may apply and give notice.

6. Insist your insurers fully investigate claims.

Insurers have a duty to investigate claims thoroughly and must look for facts that support coverage.

7. Watch what you say.

Communications with an insurer or an insurance broker regarding a lawsuit against you or a loss are not necessarily privileged.

8. Don’t take “no” for an answer.

A reservation of rights is almost always the start of the insurance claim process, and a denial should not dissuade you from pursuing your rights. Even if coverage is not obvious at first, it may be there, if you look in the right places.

9. Document, document, document your claim.

Whether it is a first-party loss or a liability suit against you, write to your insurer and document your submission of information and materials. Require your insurer to respond in writing and to explain its position. A well-documented chain of correspondence narrows disputes, helps to limit shifting of insurer positions, or helps to make such shifting very apparent if your claim proceeds to formal enforcement measures.

10. Insist that your insurers honor their duties.

In the liability context insurers frequently owe broad duties to defend with independent, conflict-free counsel, even if uncovered claims dominate the lawsuit against you. In property insurance contexts, insurers have duties to help you on an expedited emergency basis to protect your interests immediately after a loss. It is important to hold insurers to their duties to protect you immediately upon assertion of liability or after a loss—delay only benefits insurers.

 

Managing Cyber Risks: Tips for Purchasing Insurance That Works for Your Business (Part 2)

Omid SafaJames S. Carter, and Jared Zola

This blog post is Part Two of our blog series and highlights several strategies for maximizing the value of a cyber insurance purchase. Part One of the blog series, highlighted the need for an organization to reevaluate its insurance coverage as part of a comprehensive strategy for addressing emerging cyber risks and outlined several ‘‘big picture’’ considerations relevant to any organization contemplating a cyber insurance purchase. This second part focuses on several strategies to consider when negotiating a cyber insurance purchase and seeking to customize a policy to align with an organization’s particular business needs. Continue reading “Managing Cyber Risks: Tips for Purchasing Insurance That Works for Your Business (Part 2)”

The Art of (Cyber) War

Kevin R. Doherty

Kevin R. DohertyToday’s political climate is rife with reminders about the importance of data privacy and cybersecurity. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Risks Report, the greatest technological risks facing the world include large-scale cyberattacks and massive incidents of data fraud and data theft. And it’s no secret that companies can lose millions of dollars, and the loyalty of their customers, when their data is stolen. It is thus increasingly important for companies, large and small, to obtain adequate insurance coverage to protect against these risks. But are all cyberattacks covered under your policy, and what happens if a cyberattack is considered an act of war? The answers depend, and they could make the difference in your company’s survival. Continue reading “The Art of (Cyber) War”

Managing Cyber Risks: Tips for Purchasing Insurance That Works for Your Business (Part 1)

Omid Safa, James S. Carter, and Jared Zola

Safa, OmidCarter, James S.Zola, Jared With information technology impacting nearly every aspect of commerce in our “wired” economy, few issues present more concern to businesses today than cybersecurity. Cyberattacks continue to proliferate at an alarming rate and the threats facing companies continue to evolve and become more sophisticated with each passing day. The legal and financial costs associated with such events also grow more serious, as legislators, regulators, and customers insist on greater protection and impose more stringent requirements. Meanwhile, insurance companies have sought to limit the coverage available under traditional insurance policies with new exclusions aimed at cyber-related risks. As a result, it has become imperative for organizations to reevaluate their cybersecurity protocols and breach response plans—and their insurance coverage assets to help offset losses and liabilities associated with such events when all other safeguards fail. Increasingly, this means that companies must consider purchasing cyber-specific coverage to insure against these emerging risks and address the potential gaps in their traditional insurance programs. Continue reading “Managing Cyber Risks: Tips for Purchasing Insurance That Works for Your Business (Part 1)”

How to Make Sure the Indemnification and Additional Insured Provisions in Your Next Contract Deliver the Protection Your Company Expects

James S. Carter

Carter, James S.Many companies rely on indemnification and additional insured provisions in their contracts for protection against losses arising from a contractual relationship. Indemnification provisions insulate the company from certain losses by requiring the other party to assume and to indemnify it against those losses. Additional insured provisions add another layer of protection by requiring the other party to arrange for the company to become an insured under the other party’s insurance policies. Ideally, indemnification provisions and additional insured coverage should work together when losses occur to furnish the level of protection the company expected when it entered into the contract.

Unless company representatives read the insurance policy that provides the additional insured coverage, documents_compare_shutterstock_234757165however, they may have little idea how the additional insured coverage works. A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Texas arising out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident illustrates how the interplay between additional insured coverage and wording in an underlying contract can operate to frustrate an additional insured’s expectations of coverage. Continue reading “How to Make Sure the Indemnification and Additional Insured Provisions in Your Next Contract Deliver the Protection Your Company Expects”

Target Data Breach Part 2: The Additional Insured

Erin L. Webb

More information has come to light about the data breach affecting Target, and it highlights the importance of “additional insured” coverage, as well as the need for companies to recognize that sophisticated cyberattacks can affect any company, not just those in the computer or technology industries.  Blogger Brian Krebs reports that the theft of credentials from a heating and cooling (HVAC) company may be linked to the Target breach.

How could it happen?  No details have yet been publicly confirmed, but it is possible that the HVAC company had access to Target’s network so that it could remotely monitor heating and cooling efficiency at multiple Target locations.  If Target’s electronic systems were linked – if one was accessible via another – a path for a hacker from HVAC information to credit card processing may have been possible. Continue reading “Target Data Breach Part 2: The Additional Insured”