In an article recently featured in Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage, my colleagues Lorie Masters, Michael Levine, and I discuss significant cases and other insurance developments from 2017. The full article can be found here.
With 2017 now in the rearview mirror, my colleagues Michael Levine, Lorie Masters, and I take the opportunity in this year’s annual review to reflect on the cases and other insurance developments that made the year memorable and will influence coverage decisions and disputes in 2018 and beyond.
Thank you and Happy New Year to all of our readers!
Following the devastation of Hurricane Irma, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has entered an emergency order regarding insurance procedures for residential property policies to assist policyholders and streamline the claims process. The insurance commissioner’s order provides standardized requirements for claims reporting, grace periods for payment of premiums and performance of other duties by policyholders, and temporary postponement of cancellations and non-renewals. These include:
Since our first report last year, Lemonade Insurance, a tech start-up that planned to offer peer-to-peer insurance products, has launched in four states, offering homeowners and renters insurance in New York, California, Illinois, and New Jersey. Lemonade’s cutting-edge use of technology and its alternative business model could prove disruptive to the insurance industry.
On March 31 and April 15, we wrote blog posts (which can be accessed here and here) about a D.C. federal judge’s decision to rescind MetLife’s systematically important financial institution (SIFI) status. On October 24, a D.C. Circuit three-judge panel heard oral argument of the appeal of that decision. The federal government advocated to reinstate MetLife’s “too big to fail” designation by arguing that regulators were not required to prove the insurance giant was likely to collapse before imposing enhanced federal oversight. Conversely, attorneys for MetLife argued that the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) acted arbitrarily by not partaking in any threshold analysis of how MetLife would be vulnerable to a financial collapse.
Last month, I wrote about State Farm’s “Dirty Little Secret.” After a non-jury trial, Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit (Leon County) declared that data submitted by State Farm Florida Insurance Company (“State Farm”) to Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”), as required by Fla. Stat. 624.424(10), constituted a “trade secret” under Florida law. The Circuit Court released its written opinion on May 2, 2016.
As an update to our March 31 post about MetLife shedding its SIFI designation, the court recently released its opinion detailing the reasoning behind its order. The court found two reasons to overturn MetLife’s designation as a systemically important financial institution (SIFI), which the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) placed on MetLife after finding that “material financial distress” at MetLife could “pose a threat to the financial stability of the United States.”
On March 30, 2016, Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit (Leon County) declared that the personal and commercial residential policy data and report submitted by State Farm Florida Insurance Company (“State Farm”) to Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”) constitute trade secrets under Florida law and are thus immune from public disclosure under Florida’s Public Records Act. Beginning in the first quarter of 2014, State Farm began filing its Quarterly and Supplemental Reporting System (“QUASR”) reports with “trade secret” designation. On May 15, 2014, State Farm filed a declaratory action in Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit in and for Leon County, requesting that the Court declare: (1) State Farm’s QUASR data and report are trade secretes under 812.081 and 688.022, Fla. Stat.; and (2) that State Farm’s QUASR data and report are exempt from public disclosure under Florida’s Public Records Act because they are trade secret.
Last week, Chubb announced that it would begin offering personal lines coverage in four states for costs related to cyberbullying. The coverage would reportedly insure costs for “psychiatric services, rest and recuperation expenses, lost salary, temporary relocation services, education expenses, professional public relations services, and cyber security consultants.”
The cyberbullying protection would cover expenses up to $60,000. Chubb will offer the coverage to its homeowners insurance policyholders who purchase a Family Protection policy, which Chubb says generally costs $70. According to Christie Alderman, a Vice President at Chubb, the new coverage “helps victims reclaim their lives” after cyberbullying incidents. In the near future, Chubb expects to offer the coverage to policyholders in states other than Indiana, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
Yesterday, a federal judge in the District of Columbia rescinded a regulatory order designating MetLife as a systemically important financial institution (“SIFI”). In December 2014, MetLife joined AIG and Prudential as the only insurance companies designated as SIFIs – a designation that subjected the insurers to additional regulation by the Federal Reserve and additional capital requirements. Unlike AIG and Prudential, MetLife took its challenge to the federal courts. And yesterday the court rewarded MetLife’s persistence.
The court released only a two-page summary order rescinding the SIFI designation and sealed its opinion, which likely contains the reasoning behind the court’s decision. The parties have until April 6 to identify proposed redactions to the opinion, after which the court presumably will release the opinion to the public. Hunton & Williams LLP will update this blog when the opinion is released.