Financial Institution Bond

A federal court last month turned away an insurer’s legal arguments seeking to avoid financial institution bond coverage for a bank’s losses resulting from a borrower’s use of forged documents to obtain a $3.6 million loan.  In doing so, the Arizona court rejected Everest National Insurance Company’s narrow construction of the bond’s “Securities” insuring agreement and ruled that the notice-prejudice rule applies to a financial institution bond.

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In its third quarter report, insurer Beazley reported a nine-fold increase in social engineering attacks (i.e., deception-based fraud/crime) as compared to the same time last year.  So far, the majority of social engineering attacks in 2017 were focused on the professional services sector (18%), followed by financial institutions (9%), higher education (9%) and healthcare (3%).  The report also notes continued high rates of unintended disclosure via employee negligence across all sectors (29%), second only to affirmative hacking or malware attacks (34%).

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Coverage often turns on the meaning of a single word or phrase in an insurance policy. The definition of “counterfeit” in financial institution bonds can be especially tricky. On June 12, 2017, the court in Harvard Sav. Bank v. Sec. Nat’l Ins. Co., No. 15-CV-11674, 2017 WL 2560900, at *1 (N.D. Ill. June 12, 2017) addressed the definition of “counterfeit” in the financial institution bond issued by Security National Insurance Company to Harvard Savings Bank. As the ruling illustrates, terminology that may appear to be insignificant can often make all the difference between millions of dollars in recovery versus no coverage being available.
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In a March 17, 2017 opinion, a Minnesota federal court rejected a financial institution bond carrier’s attempt to rescind the bond it issued to a credit union despite the credit union’s manager making a false statement in the bond application that she had no knowledge of any act which might give rise to a claim, after she had embezzled $3 million. See National Credit Union Administration Board v. CUMIS Insurance Society, Inc., No. 16-139, 2017 WL 1047256 (D. Minn. Mar. 17, 2017).  The court refused to attribute the embezzler’s misrepresentation to her employer because, in embezzling the credit union’s money, she was working solely for her own benefit.

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