Renewing Product Liability Coverage? Consider the Number of Occurrences

James S. Carter

Carter, James S.Many companies at this time of year are preparing to renew their product liability coverage, which is supposed to provide security for products lawsuits.  The insurance policy that a company is considering for its products liability coverage, however, may leave the amount of coverage for product liability losses up to chance because of an issue that arises in insurance coverage litigation, particularly those involving product liability claims, known as the number of “occurrences.”  Simply put, the number-of-occurrences issue asks whether product liability claims arise from one occurrence or more than one occurrence.  Because the amount of coverage or any deductible is typically stated as a dollar amount “per occurrence,” the answer to that question can leave a policyholder with an abundance of coverage, or leave it essentially self-insured.

The number-of-occurrences issue can have a particularly profound effect on insurance coverage in the product liability context because of the potential for numerous claims.  If, for instance, a policy has a per-occurrence deductible, and each product liability claim is deemed to be a separate occurrence, the total amount of deductibles could exceed the total amount of coverage.  Alternatively, if product liability claims are grouped together as one occurrence, then only one deductible would have to be paid, thus preserving coverage. Continue reading “Renewing Product Liability Coverage? Consider the Number of Occurrences”

Potential Insurance Coverage for Lawsuits Against Video Game Publishers Alleging Copyright Infringement of Celebrity Tattoo Art

Erin L. Webb

Two video game publishers have recently been targets of lawsuits alleging that their video game and box art infringed upon tattoo artists’ copyrights. Electronic Arts (EA) has been sued over the 2004 title NFL Street, with star athlete Ricky Williams — and his tattoo — prominently figured on the front of the box. The tattoo artist alleges that EA did so without his permission and in infringement of his copyright to the tattoo design. Another artist sued THQ, publisher of UFC Undisputed 3, alleging that the in-game model of Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Carlos Condit used a copyrighted tattoo design without permission. These types of lawsuits may give rise to coverage under the target companies’ liability insurance policies, which could help to defray the costs of defending against those lawsuits and potentially the costs of any resulting liability or settlement.

Though policy wordings may differ, in general, most comprehensive general liability (CGL) policies cover “personal and advertising injury liability.” If the policyholder company is sued, and the claims involve “advertising injury” as defined by the policy, the policyholder is potentially entitled to a defense and indemnity for any liability. Though some policies contain exclusions for copyright infringement, an exception to that exclusion may grant coverage back for “infringement . . . in your ‘advertisement’, of copyright, trade dress or slogan.” Continue reading “Potential Insurance Coverage for Lawsuits Against Video Game Publishers Alleging Copyright Infringement of Celebrity Tattoo Art”

Insurance Coverage for Fracking Claims

Jared Zola

Zola, JaredI presented at the @SeminarGroup conference in Santa Barbara, California on February 8, 2013 about insuring hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) projects.

The natural gas and oil extraction and production technique known as fracking is a hot-button issue in today’s political landscape and in the media. Estimates suggest that more than a quarter of the United States’ natural gas supply is derived from shale bed fracking. As evidenced by the recent Presidential campaigns, many Americans view fracking as an economic catalyst that may create jobs domestically and help reduce the country’s reliance on foreign energy supplies. While this extraction and production technique has been utilized in the United States since the 1940s, it has recently gained additional attention from environmental groups claiming environmental harm as the extraction moves into the more densely populated areas surrounding the natural-gas rich Marcellus Shale in the northeast and the huge Monterey shale that lies under California’s Central Valley at San Benito and Monterey counties. Continue reading “Insurance Coverage for Fracking Claims”

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