Social engineering attacks, particularly fraudulent transfers, are becoming one of the most utilized cyber scams.  As a result, there has been a flurry of litigation, and a patchwork of decisions, concerning coverage disputes over social engineering losses.  Most recently, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found in Midlothian Enterprises, Inc. v. Owners Insurance Company, that a so-called “voluntary parting” exclusion provision in a crime policy should exclude coverage for a fraudulent transfer social engineering scheme.  The decision illustrates why policyholders must vigilantly analyze their insurance policies to ensure that their coverages keep pace with what has proven to be a rapidly evolving risk landscape.

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As crypto-asset losses continue to rise, the industry is taking steps to protect clients and investors through insurance. Crypto-exchange and custody provider, Gemini Trust Company, LLC (“Gemini”), recently launched its own captive insurance provider, Nakamoto, Ltd. Captive insurance is an alternative to self-insurance whereby a company creates a licensed insurance company to provide coverage for itself. According to a statement from Gemini, Nakamoto is “the world’s first captive to insure crypto custody” and allows Gemini “to increase its insurance capacity beyond the coverage currently available in the commercial insurance market” for cryptocurrency wallets not connected to the internet, commonly referred to as “cold storage.” According to Gemini, this move makes Nakamoto the world’s most insured crypto-asset cold storage solution, which signals an expectation of increased demand in the crypto market.

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Illinois National Insurance Company, an AIG Commercial Insurance company, (“AIG”) told a Pennsylvania federal court in a brief opposing summary judgment that it has no duty to defend Hub Parking Technology USA Inc. (“Hub”), a Pittsburgh-area parking technology company, in a third-party complaint alleging a privacy breach that exposed customers’ credit card numbers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

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A New York federal court denied AIG Specialty Insurance Company’s (“AIG”) motion to dismiss breach of contract and bad faith claims in a lawsuit filed by SS&C Technology Holdings, Inc. (“SS&C”). SS&C alleges that AIG breached its contract by failing to cover losses stemming from a cyber incident in which hackers duped the company out of millions of dollars.

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Last week, in an exciting moment, the U.S. House of Representatives, voted 321 to 103 in favor of H.R.1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (“SAFE Banking Act”). If enacted into law, the SAFE Banking Act, would provide financial institutions, including insurers, a safe harbor to do business with “cannabis-related legitimate businesses” in the United States. In particular, the act would protect insurers, independent agents, and brokers from criminal and civil liability when offering insurance coverage to state-legalized cannabis businesses. The SAFE Banking Act would grant the cannabis business community access to many of the financial services most companies take for granted, like electronic payment processing, employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts and small business loans.

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In Dunn, et al. v. Columbia National Insurance Company, No. 2:17-cv-0246 (N.D. Ga.), an insurance company refused to defend an insured in a personal injury claim contending that the insured failed to cooperate in the defense. The underlying claim stemmed from an automobile accident, where an employee of Lawson Air Conditioning and Plumbing, Inc. (“Lawson”), Ronald Patterson, struck members of the Dunn family with a pickup truck owned by Lawson as the family was walking out of a Walmart store. The Dunn family members suffered bodily injury as a proximate result of the accident.  Patterson admitted fault.

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In the August 2019 publication of Contract Management, Hunton insurance recovery lawyers Walter Andrews, Lorelie Masters, Michael Levine, and Latosha Ellis discuss how a robust insurance program can help government prime contractors mitigate potential financial risks associated with downstream data breaches or releases. In the article, the authors explain government prime

In a significant win for policyholders, the Ninth Circuit rejected an insurer’s argument that the common meaning of “war” applied when interpreting a war exclusion, instead of the customary usage of the term, pursuant to Cal.  Civ. Code 1644, and revived NBC Universal’s attempt to recover at least $6.9 million in costs incurred to relocate the production of a television show from Jerusalem during the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Universal Cable Prods., et al., LLC v. Atl. Specialty Ins. Co., 2019 WL 3049034, at *10 (9th Cir. July 12, 2019).

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The cancellation of the first day of music mogul Pharrell Williams’s inaugural Something In the Water Music Festival (SITW) in Virginia Beach, Virginia due to stormy weather is a recent reminder of the importance of securing event cancellation and business interruption insurance to mitigate the significant economic risks posed by outdoor events.[1]

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Notwithstanding the absence of a congressional war declaration since Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Zurich American Insurance Company has invoked a “war exclusion” in an attempt to avoid covering Illinois snack food and beverage company Mondelez International Inc.’s expenses stemming from its exposure to the NotPetya virus in 2017. The litigation, Mondelez Intl. Inc. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. 2018-L-11008, 2018 WL 4941760 (Ill. Cir. Ct., Cook Cty., complaint filed Oct. 10, 2018), remains pending in an Illinois state court.
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