On Wednesday, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP insurance partner Mike Levine testified before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Financial Services in support of a bill that takes aim at insurers’ argument that their policies do not cover losses caused by COVID-19 or government-issued closure orders. Passage of H.1079 would give business owners in Massachusetts a fair chance to show otherwise: that their all-risk insurance policies, for which they paid substantial annual premiums, do indeed cover business income losses and extra operating expenses incurred because of the pandemic.
As governments lift COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and economies begin to reopen, consumer demand for products has skyrocketed. Amid the spike in demand, businesses are struggling to meet consumers’ needs due to ongoing global supply chain disruption. The disruption stems from many factors, including the lingering effects of COVID-19 mitigation strategies that slashed the production of goods, as well as a shortage of warehouse workers and truck drivers. Insurance is a key component of supply chain risk management. Policyholders who rely on a supply chain can use insurance to protect against supply chain risks. Here, we explore supply chain risks and how insurance can mitigate those risks.
Last year, we wrote about the UK’s National Security and Investment Bill, which was pending approval at the end of 2020. A few months into the New Year, the bill received Royal Assent, making it the “biggest shake-up of UK’s investment screening regime in 20 years.”
The NSI Act is now scheduled to take effect on January 4, 2022. However, businesses should be aware of the Act’s requirements now because it has a retroactive effect, where the government can “call in” transactions that have closed since November 12, 2020 for in-depth review if it believes a transaction gives rise to national security concerns. Transactions subject to this retroactive assessment can be cleared in full, cleared subject to conditions, unwound, or blocked.
The new regime is designed to strengthen the government’s ability to investigate and intervene in mergers, acquisitions, and other deals that raise national security concerns. It provides new regulatory oversight and enforcement authority, which opens the door to additional D&O exposures. For example, the Act imposes a mandatory notification system for certain transactions in sensitive sectors of the economy. If a company fails to seek authorization, the transaction will be void and the company may be subject to criminal or civil penalties. Further, the Secretary of State will have the broad power to “call in” and investigate transactions that the government reasonably suspects may give rise to national security concerns.
D&O policies may respond to investigations and enforcement actions like those under the Act. As we approach the commencement date, companies should ensure they understand the requirements of the Act and that they have broad D&O coverage for the investigations and enforcement actions that may result.
Priority of coverage disputes can arise where different insurers for different insureds cover the same claim. Generally, competing insurers will compare the “Other Insurance” clauses of their policies to decide who should cover the claim first. But where one of the insureds owes contractual indemnity to the other, the indemnity obligation may govern. Thus, the insurer for the insured who owes indemnity may cover the claim first, even if it would have been excess per the “Other Insurance” clauses. Such was the case in Cent. Sur. Co. v. Metro. Transit Auth., et al., No. 20-1474-CV, 2021 WL 4538633, at *1 (2d Cir. Oct. 5, 2021).
While total False Claims Act recoveries decreased in 2020, FCA litigation and investigations are expected to continue to rise under the Biden administration, driven in part by the DOJ opening 250 new FCA investigations and actions in 2020, which is the highest number of new matters since 1994. As recent decisions show, the good news is that companies incurring legal fees defending against government investigations or negotiating settlements with regulators to resolve FCA claims may be able to look to D&O coverage to mitigate those losses. One such company recently prevailed in its $10 million claim against an excess D&O insurer following the insurer’s improper refused to contribute its policy limits to an FCA settlement with the DOJ. The Illinois federal court decision, Astellas US Holdings, Inc. v. Starr Indemnity & Liability Co., No. 17-cv-08220 (E.D. Ill. Oct. 8, 2021), which focuses on whether $50 million of Astellas’s settlement payment to the DOJ was covered “Loss” under the D&O policy, provides useful guidance for companies facing potential FCA exposures. Continue Reading Policyholder Win Highlights Key Issues to Maximize Coverage for False Claims Act Settlements
We are pleased to announce that Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP insurance coverage partner Lorelie S. Masters is one of only eight attorneys throughout the nation shortlisted for the Best in Insurance & Reinsurance category for the Women in Business Law Awards 2021. The award honors “the outstanding achievements of women in over thirty different practice areas in business law from across Americas. These are individuals who stand out as leaders amongst their peers and who have been instrumental to innovative approaches in their field.”
Court dockets, both in the state and federal court systems, have seen a massive influx of COVID-19 business interruption insurance cases since the pandemic began in March of 2020. More recently, cases have been moving more expeditiously through the federal courts, and the circuit courts are starting to issue decisions. Most recently, the Ninth Circuit has spoken and its decisions provide important guidance for policyholders with pending COVID-19 coverage cases in California federal courts.
It happens every year. A clearly covered loss occurs and for one reason or another, the policyholder delays in notifying its insurer of the loss. Usually, the cause for the delay is innocent. It may even appear to be justified, such as where the insured prioritizes steps to save its property, inventory or assist dependent customers. But no matter the reason, insurers can be hard-lined in their refusal to accept an untimely claim. This is especially true in states that presume prejudice to the insurer, or where the insurer need not show prejudice at all.
This year, like last, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an extremely active hurricane season. As we write this post, the Gulf Coast, Mid-Atlantic, New York, and New England regions are still recovering from the devastation Ida has left in her path. Now is the time to ensure your insurance program is hurricane-ready. As reported in the client alert linked below, our insurance coverage team provides critical steps that you should take now to ensure that you protect your assets and maximize recovery in the unfortunate event of a hurricane claim.
Just as the Ohio and Delaware supreme courts gear up for oral argument – September 8th and 22nd, respectively – on whether insurers must defend opioid distributors in lawsuits related to the opioid crisis, Hunton Andrews Kurth Partner Syed Ahmad weighed in with the policyholders’ prospective for Law360. “These appeals are significant,” Ahmad explained (and insurers’ counsel agreed), “because of the potential far-reaching impact on the scope of general liability coverage.”