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The Hawaii Supreme Court emphatically rejected insurer efforts to seek reimbursement of defense costs absent a provision in the policy providing for such reimbursement in St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company v. Bodell Construction Company, No. SCCQ-22-0000658, 2023 WL 7517083, (Haw. Nov. 14, 2023). The state high court’s well-reasoned decision rests on bedrock law regarding insurance policy construction and application, follows the nationwide trend of courts compelling insurers to satisfy their contractual obligations in full, and should carry great weight as other jurisdictions continue to debate the same issue.

Continue Reading Hawaii Supreme Court Says Aloha to Insurers Trying to Recoup Defense Costs From Policyholders
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Adriana Perez, a Miami-based insurance coverage associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, was appointed to co-chair the National Association of Women Lawyers’ (“NAWL”) Women in Insurance Practice Area Affinity Group. This group is designed for women lawyers to connect and facilitate discussion, brainstorming and consultation with one another regarding hot button topics across the entire insurance industry.

As co-chair, Adriana will help lead events and webinars to connect members, garner new membership and encourage young women in law school to explore the insurance industry as part of their practice. The group consists of lawyers representing policyholders and insurance companies, as well as in-house counsel that handle their companies’ risk management strategies.

To learn more about NAWL Affinity Groups, click here.

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A Michigan federal court in Wolverine World Wide Inc. v. The American Insurance Co. et al., No. 1:19-cv-00010 (W.D. Mich.), recently confirmed what should go without saying – a claim handler is a claim handler, even if they may also be a lawyer.  Recognizing that it’s the nature of the work that drives the analysis, the court ordered an in-house Travelers’ attorney to sit for a deposition in a PFAS coverage suit because the attorney was performing ordinary claim-handling activity.  In rejecting the insurer’s arguments, the court reiterated that “an insurer cannot create a ‘shroud of secrecy’ by simply designating an attorney to conduct an otherwise ordinary claim investigation.”

Continue Reading “The Lines Are Not Blurred”: Attorney Claim Handlers Are Not Protected by Attorney-Client Privilege
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Commercial general liability insurance policies are often written on an “occurrence” basis. An “occurrence” is typically defined as “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.” Coverage, therefore, requires generally that the “bodily injury” or “property damage” (or “advertising injury” or “personal injury”) happen fortuitously during the effective policy period. Central to this inquiry is knowing when the injury or damage took place. 

Continue Reading Policyholders Score Win as Another State’s High Court Adopts the “Continuous-Trigger” Theory for General Liability Policies
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As previewed in part 1 of our AI Policyholder’s Guide, we now discuss how businesses can assess their AI risk to ensure that they are properly positioned to secure insurance coverage should those risks come to fruition. Because no two businesses will have the same AI risk profile, businesses should consider undertaking organization-wide AI risk audits to evaluate their unique AI risk profile.

Understanding the nature of AI-focused legal risk is not only important for business planning, but essential to crafting a comprehensive AI-specific risk management plan. Indeed, because insurance is often underwritten relative to specific risks, knowing the risks to be insured is a prerequisite to procuring the right type of coverage with terms most suitable to a given risk profile.

Continue Reading The Hunton Policyholder’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence: The Importance of Auditing AI Risk  
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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP is pleased to announce the release of the inaugural edition of our AI and Emerging Technologies Newsletter. The newsletter focuses on multidisciplinary, current topics affecting businesses in the AI and emerging technology industry. Inside our first edition, we cover a bit of what you need to know about AI in the context of contract terms and conditions, US privacy laws, insurance, employer use monitoring and workforce management, and copyright law, as well as the rise in crypto class actions. Our first edition also includes an article written by insurance partner Michael Levine and associate Alex Pappas that discusses the importance of auditing your business’ unique AI risks and exposures to ensure that they are appropriately mitigated as part of your existing risk management system.

A copy of the full newsletter can be found here.

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Courts scrutinize a complaint’s factual allegations to decide whether the allegations trigger a duty to defend. [1] If the facts unambiguously exclude coverage, there is no duty to defend. [2] But what if the factual allegations fall within a policy exclusion, but the allegations are untrue or questionable? What if the true facts would mean the exclusion doesn’t apply? In that case, many courts have found that the insurer should base its decision on the policyholder’s version of the “true facts.” [3] An insurer can’t rely on the complaint’s allegations to deny coverage when the facts that the insurer knows or can ascertain show that the claim is covered. [4]

Continue Reading Allegations Versus “True Facts”: Which Govern the Duty to Defend? Bonus! A Georgia Court Clears Up What the Meaning of “Is” Is
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The United States Supreme Court recently accepted review of In re Kaiser Gypsum Co., Inc., 60 F.4th 73 (4th Cir. 2023), a Fourth Circuit decision concerning “whether an insurer with financial responsibility for a bankruptcy claim is a ‘party in interest’ that may object to a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization.” This issue, while one of first impression for the SCOTUS, has been litigated several times in the appellate courts, leading to a circuit split over the interplay between Article III and 11 U.S.C. Section 1109(b). 

Continue Reading Standing Room Only: SCOTUS Accepts Review of Circuit Split on Whether Insurer is a Party in Interest in Policyholder’s Bankruptcy
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Most modern liability insurance policies have provisions addressing whether different claims are “related” (or “interrelated”) for assessing potential coverage. Because the answer of whether two claims are “related” depends heavily on the facts giving rise to the underlying claims, the policy language, and applicable law, questions about relatedness can lead to significant insurance coverage disputes.

Continue Reading Tenth Circuit: Remain Thoughtful About Whether Your Insurance Claims Are Related