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.
Representations and Warranties (“R&W”) insurance has burst into the market in the last five years and now plays a key role in mergers and acquisitions (“M&A”) involving government contractors. Both private equity and strategic buyers use R&W insurance to improve their competitive position, and sellers benefit by avoiding escrows and holdbacks. In short, it can help get deals done. R&W insurance continues to evolve, and government contracts deals present unique challenges.
Earlier this month, the New Jersey Appellate Division upheld a decision allowing Cooper Industries LLC (“Cooper”) access to insurance policies received through a series of mergers and acquisitions (“M&As”), even though the transfer of assets language in the relevant bill of sale did not specifically reference the transfer of insurance rights. Cooper was thus afforded liability coverage for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) action seeking substantial cleanup costs.
Numerous commentators have written as to how Representations and Warranty Insurance (“Rep & Warranty Insurance”) can be a valuable tool in getting deals closed. Indeed, numerous difficult deals that may have otherwise died, or at least gone sideways, have been able to close thanks to the prudent use of Rep & Warranty Insurance.
As noted at a recent Blank Rome CLE presentation to several hundred in-house and outside counsel, like any other insurance policy the quality of a Rep & Warranty Insurance policy will depend on essentially one thing: the policy language. Accordingly, this post does not focus on whether or how to obtain such insurance, but on some of the key terms to analyze and seek to negotiate or enhance if you do. Continue reading “Buying Rep & Warranty Insurance? Be Sure to Watch Your Language!”
Bolstered by the strong United States dollar and cheap energy costs, the current wave of corporate takeovers and mergers shows no sign of abating. In fact, according to last month’s bi-annual report on corporate dealmaking from Ernst & Young, 56 percent of responding companies stated that they intend to make acquisitions in the coming year, which was a significant increase from the 31 percent reported in April 2014.Ernst & Young also noted that the number of deals in the pipeline is up 19 percent from this time last year.
As this expanding inventory of corporate transactions moves toward completion, an increasing number are likely to involve the purchase of “representations and warranties” insurance. While R&W insurance has been available in the market for more than 15 years, it has seen rapid growth in only the last five or so years. Whereas mergers and acquisitions lawyers once tried to negotiate around potential problems, lawyers for both sellers and buyers are now increasingly looking to shift the risk of unintentional and unknown breaches of the representations and warranties in a Purchase and Sale Agreement to an insurance company. Nevertheless, among the common types of available insurance products, R&W insurance may be the least understood. Continue reading “Representations and Warranties Insurance”
Insurance-related issues are a critical aspect of any merger or acquisition and should be addressed early in the deal process. The insurance-related issues that may arise in deal contexts are too many to address here, but companies entering a potential deal should keep the following considerations in mind.
Evaluate liabilities, exposures, and insurance program. Evaluating a target company’s insurance program frequently sheds light on the company’s overall operations and quality of the company being purchased. A target company that presents a poor insurance risk relative to its loss history may also be a poor business risk. Accordingly, a party to a potential deal will be well-served to evaluate the target company’s operations to determine current liabilities and exposure to loss, and thoroughly examine the target company’s insurance portfolio to determine if existing insurance is likely to cover the liabilities. The analysis may also inform decisions regarding the need for future insurance purchases to fill any gaps in coverage for potential loss exposures. To conduct these evaluations and examinations, the company and its insurance coverage counsel should obtain the target company’s current and historical insurance policies, any coverage charts that may exist, pleadings from any litigation in which the target is involved, and loss history reports. Also, if possible, interviewing the target company’s internal legal and risk management teams and outside insurance coverage counsel frequently provides an efficient means to obtaining key information and answering questions. Continue reading “Insurance Implications for M&A Deals”