In Yahoo, Inc. v. National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, PA., the California Supreme Court confirmed that contra proferentem and other rules of policy interpretation apply even to language insurers argue is “manuscript” as long as the provisions in question use standard-form policy terms. There, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asked the California Supreme Court to answer a certified question regarding whether a commercial general liability policy (CGL) covers defense costs related to claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) (47 U.S.C. § 227). Following a thorough and thoughtful assessment of California law involving fundamental rules of policy interpretation, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the policyholder, Yahoo, Inc. (“Yahoo!”). The authors of this article represented amicus curiae, United Policyholders, in support of Yahoo! before the California Supreme Court. 

Continue Reading Unanimous California Supreme Court Affirms Breadth of Policy-Interpretation Rules in Confirming That CGL Policies Cover TCPA Liabilities

As we have discussed in prior parts of this series, the insurance industry has developed an array of policies specifically tailored to cover cryptocurrency claims, and some of these policies may also cover certain NFT claims. Separate and apart from these tailored policies, policyholders with NFT claims also may look to traditional forms of insurance. 

NFTs are collectible and one of a kind, yet digital. The most common NFT is a type of visual art image like a digital painting, a photograph or generative designs (created by artificial intelligence). However, this high-level definition doesn’t do justice to just how pervasive these have become. In addition to traditional artwork, there are:

Continue Reading Digital Asset Insurance Coverage Series, Part 7: Insurance for NFTs

Several of the largest brokers have developed a considerable bench. For example, Marsh has a Digital Asset Risk Team (DART);[1] Lockton has its Lockton Emerging Asset Protection Team (LEAP)[2] and Aon and others have their own teams.[3]

There are multiple advantages to procuring cryptocurrency insurance through brokers that have deep experience in this particular area of insurance. These may include:

Continue Reading Digital Asset Insurance Coverage Series, Part 6: Brokers And Cryptocurrency Insurance

Last week’s discussion focused on the evolution of the insurance marketplace for digital assets. This section focuses on the marketplace as it now exists, providing examples of products being bought by companies and consumers facing cryptocurrency risks. 
Continue Reading Digital Asset Insurance Coverage Series, Part 5: How Companies And Consumers With Cryptocurrency Risk Approach Insurance

In the 18th Century, underwriting desks at what came to be known as Lloyd’s of London were developed to share or transfer risks associated with shipping. Availability of risk sharing, or insurance, provided protection for maritime investors and facilitated increased levels of investment and thus increased levels of maritime activity. Risk transfer has become an essential part of the development of a marketplace for many products.
In the early years of cryptocurrency, there were no insurance products specifically designed to cover cryptocurrency-related losses. Much like the presence of insurance fosters development of a marketplace, the absence of insurance hinders it.
Continue Reading Digital Asset Insurance Coverage Series, Part 4: History Of Insurance Coverage Specifically Designed For Cryptocurrency

In the early years of cryptocurrency, there were no crypto-specific insurance coverages. Instead, policyholders sustaining losses were left to try to access coverage under traditional insurance policies such as:
Continue Reading Digital Asset Insurance Coverage Series, Part 3: How Traditional Insurance Products Can Help Protect Policyholders From Loss And Liability Related To Digital Assets

Who can incur losses associated with cryptocurrency or digital assets? The real question is who uses them.
Among the most obvious users would be exchanges in which cryptocurrency is traded. It has been reported that the largest insurance market in the cryptocurrency industry consists of exchanges that insure against thefts from cryptocurrency hackers. Among the more prominent exchanges are Coinbase, Crypto.com and Gemini. Similarly obvious are the third-party custodians that store cryptocurrency and other forms of digital assets on consumers behalf such as BNY Mellon Crypto Currency or Fidelity Digital Assets. They provide safekeeping of digital assets including keys and ensure accessibility.

Continue Reading Digital Asset Insurance Coverage Series, Part 2: Who Can Incur Losses Associated With Digital Assets And What Are The Potential Risks Of Loss And Liability Related To Digital Assets?

Crypto markets are experiencing the greatest crash in their history to date. The value of a Bitcoin (BTC) has plummeted 70% from its peak and Ethereum (ETH) has fallen 77%. Since last November, the value of cryptocurrency tokens has lost $2 billion in value. As noted financial publication Barron’s put it: “Crypto is having a ‘Lehman moment,’ a shattering of confidence triggered by plunging asset prices, liquidity freezing up, and billions of dollars wiped out in a few scary weeks.” Cryptocurrency companies are halting withdrawals and transfers, platforms are seizing up, and regulators are circling.
Nor has the devastation been limited to the coins themselves. Non-fungible token (NFT) sales have reduced by 90% since September 2021. The New York Times reported that Opensea.io (OpenSea), an NFT marketplace that receives 2.5% share of the proceeds for each NFT sale, has been plagued by “a surge of plagiarism, as sellers convert traditional artwork into NFTs and then list the images for sale without compensating the original creator.” For example, DeviantArt, an artist collective that scans OpenSea for copyright infringement of the work of its artists, found 290,000 instances of unauthorized NFTs copying its artists’ works. While infringing listings can be deleted in response to take down requests filed by the artist, buyers of counterfeit NFTs are rarely given a refund.

Continue Reading Hunton Insurance Group Advises Policyholders on Issues That Arise With Insurance Coverage for Digital Assets, Specifically Cryptocurrency and NFTs — A Seven-Part Series 

Last week, a New York federal court ruled that an insurer’s “exceedingly broad duty to defend the insured” extended to the policyholder’s indemnification of its landlords in an underlying tort claim. ConMed Corporation (“ConMed”), a medical technology company, filed suit against Federal Insurance Company (“Federal”), a division of Chubb, alleging that Federal breached the terms of its insurance contract when it refused to defend ConMed’s landlords in a Georgia lawsuit.

The coverage dispute stemmed from ConMed employees’ claims that they were exposed to unsafe levels of ethylene oxide, a chemical used to sterilize ConMed’s equipment. Initially, the employees sued ConMed and its contractor that conducted the sterilization, but in April of 2021 the employees initiated a separate suit against ConMed’s landlords (“Landlord Action”). In the Landlord Action, plaintiff employees alleged negligence, aiding and abetting tortious conduct, fraud, wrongful death, and vicarious liability/respondeat superior claims, all stemming from their exposure to ethylene oxide. Pursuant to the lease agreement with ConMed, the landlords tendered the defense and indemnity of the Landlord Action to ConMed, which subsequently tendered the defense to Federal. Federal failed to accept defense of the Landlord Action, and ConMed filed suit.

Continue Reading NY Federal Court Rules Insurer Must Cover Policyholder’s Landlords Under Lease Agreement’s Indemnity Provision

Prior posts in this series have discussed insurance coverage issues that pertain directly to wildfire claims, but we have not yet addressed how one proceeds following a loss.  In this post in the Blog’s Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, we discuss the preparation, submission and negotiation of the insurance claim.
Continue Reading Wildfire Insurance Coverage Series, Part 7: How to Successfully Prepare, Submit and Negotiate the Claim