The Fourth Circuit recently held that a “literal” interpretation of a North Carolina insurance law was “poppycock.” Whitmire v. S. Farm Bureau Life Ins. Co., No. 21-1643 (4th Cir. 2022). The case involved a North Carolina statute that required an insurer to provide notice by mail addressed to the insured’s “last known post-office address in this State.” The person that was to receive notice under the statute had lived in North Carolina but then moved to South Carolina. The insurer provided notice at the person’s South Carolina address. It did not provide notice at the person’s last known address in North Carolina. So the beneficiary of the life insurance argued that notice did not meet the North Carolina statute because it was not provided at “last known post-office address in this State,” i.e. North Carolina.
Continue Reading Court: “Literal” Reading Of Insurance Statute Is “Poppycock”

A golf cart, at least according to a recent Eleventh Circuit ruling about insurance coverage for a minor driving a golf cart. GEICO Gen. Ins. Co. v. Gonalez, No. 21-13304.

The policy covered bodily injury arising from the use of a “private passenger, farm, or utility auto.” It defined “private passenger auto” as “a four-wheel private passenger, station wagon or jeep-type auto, including a farm or utility auto as defined.”
Continue Reading What Has Four Wheels And Is An “Auto” But Not A “Car”?

Earlier this year, New York passed a law addressing dogs and homeowners’ insurance. Some insurers selling homeowners’ insurance policies will decide whether and how to issue coverage based on the type of dog residing with the homeowners. For example, these kinds of dogs may result in lower premiums or more favorable terms than other dogs:
Continue Reading Dogs And Insurance, These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Things (Pictures Included!)

In T.D. Williamson, Inc. v. Federal Ins. Co., the Tenth Circuit recently affirmed a lower court’s decision that an insurer did not have a duty to defend or indemnify its insured, a pipeline company, against a former director’s lawsuit. 21-5043, 2022 WL 1112530, at *1 (10th Cir. Apr. 14, 2022). According to the appellate court, the policy’s “insured vs. insured” exclusion barred coverage. This exclusion is common in D&O policies. The exclusion generally eliminates coverage for claims by or on behalf of one insured against another insured. For instance, the exclusion may bar coverage for claims by a company against one of its executives or by former or current executives against other executives of the same company. There are various versions of the exclusion, but they usually contain exceptions, which provide for coverage in specific situations. These exceptions are frequently the subject of coverage disputes.
Continue Reading Executive Protection Under D&O Policies and the Insured vs. Insured Exclusion

In this final post in the Blog’s Landmark Montana Supreme Court Decision Series, we discuss the court’s ruling on the known loss doctrine and its interpretation of “occurrence” in National Indemnity Co. v. State, 499 P.3d 516 (Mont. 2021).
Continue Reading Landmark Montana Supreme Court Decision Series: Known Loss Doctrine & Interpretation of “Occurrence”

The Delaware legislature recently passed an amendment to the statute governing Delaware corporations’ ability to indemnify directors and officers. That statute—8 Del. Law 145—provides that Delaware corporations “may” purchase “insurance” to insure liability of their directors, officers, employees, and agents “whether or not the corporation would have the power to indemnify such person against such liability.” The recent amendment clarifies that “insurance” includes captive insurance. It states: “For purposes of this subsection, insurance shall include any insurance provided directly or indirectly (including pursuant to any fronting or reinsurance arrangement) by or through a captive insurance company organized and licensed in compliance with the laws of any jurisdiction . . . .”
Continue Reading Delaware Corporations May Use Captives to Insure Non-Indemnifiable Loss

This post in our Landmark Montana Supreme Court Decision Series discusses the Montana Supreme Court’s consideration of an insurer’s duty to defend in National Indemnity Co. v. State, 499 P.3d 516 (Mont. 2021).
Continue Reading Landmark Montana Supreme Court Decision Series: The Duty to Defend

In one of the top insurance-coverage decisions of 2021, the Montana Supreme Court at the end of the year handed down a landmark decision adopting the continuous trigger of coverage and “all sums” allocation, finding a duty to defend and ruling that the qualified, or “sudden and accidental” pollution exclusion did not apply. Nat’l Indem. Co. v. State, 499 P.3d 516 (Mont. 2021). The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reserved in part the rulings entered by the trial court, largely upholding a $98,000,000 judgment for the State against its CGL insurer for the policy years 1973 to 1975. The ruling thus helps ensure coverage for the hundreds of claims alleging that the State had failed to warn claimants of the dangers of asbestos exposures to workers in vermiculite mining and milling operations in Libby, Montana, operated by W. R. Grace (the “Libby Mine”).
Continue Reading Landmark Montana Supreme Court Decision Series: Trigger and Allocation

Even an insurance practitioner’s grandmother would agree that an omitted comma can have dire consequences: compare “Let’s eat grandma with “Let’s eat, grandma.”  Yet, to the possible dismay of grammar purists and grandmothers, alike, and despite acknowledging that “the placement (or omission) of one comma can make the difference,” a federal court recently found that an omitted comma in an insurance policy provision had no impact on the policy’s meaning.
Continue Reading Grammatical Imprecision Continues to Fuel Coverage Disputes