Top 5 Tips for Insureds Following Winter Storm Losses

John A. Gibbons, Jared Zola and Erin L. Webb

This week, winter snowstorms swept through the East Coast of the United States and several surrounding areas, leaving snowfall of up to two to three feet in a 36-hour period. In the bustle to get the snow cleared and get back to work, companies and individuals should be sure to maximize all available insurance coverage.

Winter storm losses can be serious and expensive.  At least one source estimates that the cost of the recent East Coast storm could range from $585 to $850 million. While not all costs will be covered by insurance, insurance policies can protect against a variety of losses relating to winter storms. For example, damaged buildings and property may be covered under a first-party property policy, as can business interruption losses that are caused by property damage. Snow and ice can also potentially expose a company to third party claims for bodily injury or property damage relating to conditions on their property, which may be covered by liability insurance.

The following five tips will help insureds maximize their coverage for winter storm losses and get back on their feet quickly.  Continue reading “Top 5 Tips for Insureds Following Winter Storm Losses”

Insurance Coverage for Government Seizures of Property

John E. Heintz and John A. Gibbons

John E. Heintz John A. GibbonsMany businesses and individuals are familiar with insurance that is available to pay for property that is taken by a private third party, be it a stranger, employee, competing business, or anconfiscate_locked_chain_shutterstock_113300764y other private actor. But what happens when a government entity or official “seizes” property? Businesses may not immediately think of insurance, but a number of forms of insurance may offer protection and reimbursement for the loss of the “seized” or taken property. Continue reading “Insurance Coverage for Government Seizures of Property”

The Second Circuit’s Ali Decision Supports Zeig on Exhaustion of Insurance

John A. Gibbons

John A. GibbonsThe Second Circuit’s June 4, 2013 decision in Ali v. Federal Insurance Co. addresses when and how a policyholder may recover from excess liability insurance policies for future liabilities when underlying insurers are insolvent. (Opinion linked here). A number of insurer-leaning commentators have cast the case as a rethinking of Zeig v. Massachusetts Bonding & Insurance Co., 23 F.2d 665 (2d Cir. 1928), the seminal Second Circuit decision authored by Judge Augustus Hand, which first established the principle that policyholders could recover against excess insurance policies even if the policyholder did not collect the full limits of underlying insurance policies.  In Zeig, the Second Circuit rejected an excess insurer’s attempt to walk away from its insurance obligations simply because Mr. Zeig settled his claim against a separate insurance company. Zeig established the principle, recognized by numerous courts since, that a policyholder’s settlement with one insurer does not forfeit the policyholder’s rights against other insurers.

The characterization that the Second Circuit has now called Zeig’s common-sense, and widely recognized principle into question, however, seriously misreads the decision in Ali. To understand Ali—what it does and does not hold—requires an understanding of the issues that were actually ruled on by the district court and affirmed by the Second Circuit. Continue reading “The Second Circuit’s Ali Decision Supports Zeig on Exhaustion of Insurance”