Hurricane Ian and its aftermath are wreaking havoc in the Caribbean and Florida. While the situation is developing rapidly, Ian has moved through Florida after initially making U.S. landfall as one of southwest Florida’s most intense hurricanes in history. It produced catastrophic storm surge exceeding 10 feet in certain locations, destructive winds packing maximum sustained winds of more than 140 mph and relentless rainfall.
The economic impact of the storm will be felt by businesses and individuals across Florida and the southeastern United States for some time. Many businesses have and will continue to suffer direct damage to property and lose income due to the resulting interruption of their operations, but many other businesses are also likely to lose substantial income due to evacuation orders, disruption of utility service and disruption of the operations of key suppliers or customers. Florida is home to many businesses in the real estate, retail, hospitality, senior living, distribution and entertainment sectors that may face significant exposures to their operations.
Businesses should examine their insurance policies closely and not indiscriminately accept coverage denials premised on flood exclusions, or other excluded perils.
Last month the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued its anticipated decision in Indian Harbor Insurance v. Zucker, affirming a 2016 decision from a federal district court in Michigan that an Insured v. Insured (“IVI”) exclusion bars coverage for a claim brought by a post-bankruptcy litigation trustee for the benefit of the insured debtors’ creditors. The district court’s Indian Harbor decision was driven largely by the mistaken conclusion that a post-bankruptcy trustee is an ordinary assignee of the debtor company—an insured—and therefore purportedly stands in the shoes of the insured debtor for purposes of the IVI exclusion. As we described at the time, that decision, however, ignores the fundamentally different nature of transfers pursuant to Bankruptcy Code Section 1123 when compared to ordinary assignments pursuant to state contract law and the fact that a post-bankruptcy trustee assumes special powers as an estate representative. Unfortunately, after appeal, this issue still remains unresolved.
Companies facing shareholder derivative suits should be wary of their directors’ and officers’ liability (“D&O”) insurers attempting to avoid providing coverage for settlements or judgments based on “bump-up” or “inadequate consideration” exclusions. The historic purpose of the exclusion is to prevent insureds from negotiating an unfairly-low price when purchasing another entity or completing intracompany transactions and then using insurance proceeds to supplement that price to come up with the fair market value. Continue reading “Don’t Let Your D&O Insurer “Bump” a Covered Claim”
The Insured v. Insured (“IVI”) exclusion is a frequent and important issue for directors & officers (“D&O”) liability coverage, particularly where the bankruptcy of an insured entity may blur the lines of who is an insured and who is acting on behalf of an insured. Nevertheless, because the exclusion generally bars coverage for a claim made against an insured individual that is “brought or maintained by or on behalf of” the insured entity, whether the IVI exclusion applies is often the single most important coverage issue for the many claims often asserted against a debtor’s former directors and officers in bankruptcy.
Although the applicability of the IVI exclusion to bankruptcy-related claims has been litigated several times and often decided in favor of insurers, none of those cases has addressed the critical question of the primacy of Bankruptcy Code Section 1123, and how this provision may prevent application of the exclusion in such circumstances. Therefore, as insurers become more emboldened by their prior victories, debtors, their former directors and officers, as well as their bankruptcy and coverage counsel should be careful to consider Section 1123 both when drafting the debtor’s plan of reorganization and in any subsequent insurance coverage litigation. Continue reading “The Insured v. Insured Exclusion and Section 1123: the Primacy of Bankruptcy Law and the Importance of Planning Ahead”
Bankruptcy of the insured does not relieve an insurer of its obligations under its insurance policy, including to pay covered liability claims held by creditors of the bankruptcy estate. Generally, for a creditor to obtain a distribution from the estate, the creditor must file a timely “proof of claim” in the bankruptcy proceeding, and the claim must be “allowed” by the bankruptcy court. Because a debtor’s assets are typically insufficient to compensate all creditors for the full allowed value of their claims, creditors usually are paid only a fraction of the dollar value allowed. Disputes have, as a result, sometimes arisen between debtor insureds or their successors on the one hand, and their insurers on the other, over whether the insurer is obligated to pay the allowed value of an insured claim (“pay-as-allowed”), or instead only the fractional amount the creditor actually would receive from the estate if there were no insurance coverage (“pay-as-paid”). Continue reading “What’s the Insured Value of an Allowed Bankruptcy Claim? Pay-as-Allowed, Pay-as-Paid, and a Novel Variation”