Corporate policyholders should carefully consider insurance coverage implications when structuring mergers, acquisitions, or other transactions that may impact available insurance assets. A New Jersey federal court recently granted summary judgment for a surviving bank asserting coverage rights under a D&O policy issued to an entity that dissolved in a statutory merger, based in part on the wording of the parties’ merger agreement structuring the transaction in accordance with the New Jersey Business Corporation Act (“NJBCA”).
The frequency and magnitude of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) (15 U.S.C. § 78dd-1, et seq.) investigations and claims continue to grow. Last month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Halliburton Co. had agreed to pay $29.2 million in fines and penalties to settle allegations that its operations in Angola and Iraq violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal accounting controls provisions. In its press release, Halliburton vowed that it had “continuously enhanced its global ethics and compliance program” since first receiving an anonymous tip in December 2010, but the recent settlement serves as a reminder that even the most robust compliance program cannot guarantee that FCPA violations will not occur.
In recent months, insurers have increasingly used New York rescission law as a means to not only deny coverage for specific claims, but also to void any protection an insurance policy may provide for other losses down the road. For example, H.J. Heinz Company recently found itself without coverage for a $30 million recall after its insurer rescinded its policy based on a misrepresentation in Heinz’s insurance application. In an article for FC&S Legal, Syed S. Ahmad, Tae Andrews, and Kelly Oeltjenbruns analyze recent rescission claims and illustrate the dangerous exposure—and high price tag—that can accompany misstatements or non-disclosures, even unintentional ones, when procuring coverage. The article, available here, tackles the issue of minimizing risks associated with recession claims and shares helpful tips for policyholders.
Commercial general liability policies typically provide coverage to insureds for losses resulting from property damage caused by an “occurrence,” usually defined in the policy as “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same harmful conditions.” In the context of food recalls, however, the exact cause of the food damage, whether contamination, spoilage or something else, may be unknown. This creates uncertainty, and in turn, a coverage dispute, over whether the cause of damage was indeed accidental, and thus a covered “occurrence.” In a recent article for Food Safety Magazine, Syed Ahmad and I analyze three recent cases involving coverage for food industry insureds where the courts found the cause of loss to constitute an “occurrence,” triggering the policy’s coverage. The full article is available here.
Insurance-giant American International Group (AIG) announced that it will be the first insurer to offer standalone primary coverage for property damage, bodily injury, business interruption, and product liability that result from cyberattacks and other cyber-related risks. According to AIG, “Cyber is a peril [that] can no longer be considered a risk covered by traditional network security insurance product[s].” The new AIG product, known as CyberEdge Plus, is intended to offer broader and clearer coverage for harms that had previously raised issues with insurers over the scope of available coverage. AIG explains its new coverage as follow:
AIG is offering its new coverage with limits of up to $100 million. The new coverage should be considered by policyholders looking to further mitigate their potential cyber exposure. It is important for policyholders to be aware, however, that the new AIG product, like any new insurance product, is yet to be tested in the courts, and challenges as to the scope of its coverage as well as the scope of its conditions and limitations are certain to follow. It is important, therefore, that policyholders continue to seek the advice of experienced coverage lawyers when considering this or any new insurance product.