The Fifth Circuit recently upheld the dismissal on summary judgment of a policyholder’s claim under a commercial crime insurance policy, affirming the trial court’s narrow interpretation of the terms “owned” and “loss,” concluding that the policyholder did not “own” the funds at issue or suffer a “loss” when it loaned those funds to the fraudsters. In so holding, the court ignored state court precedent concerning construction of those same terms.

In Cooper Industries, Ltd. v. National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., No. 16-20539 (5th Cir. Nov. 20, 2017), Cooper invested its pension-plan assets into what proved to be a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Over the course of many years, Cooper invested more than $175 million into various equity and bond investments managed by fraudsters who used the investment funds in furtherance of the Ponzi scheme. After discovering the fraud, Cooper recouped a large portion of its investment and sought coverage from its commercial crime insurer for the unrecovered $35 million. The policy limited coverage to “loss” of property that Cooper “owned.” Neither term was defined in the policy. Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Finds No Coverage Under Commercial Crime Policy Based on Narrow Construction of Undefined Terms

Hunton insurance lawyers Michael Levine, Syed Ahmad and Katherine Miller discuss how Hurricanes Harvey and Irma highlight the need for contingent business interruption insurance and why companies with this coverage should be considering how to obtain its benefit for income losses resulting from the recent storms. The article was published this morning in Risk Management.

For more information, please visit our Hurricane Insurance Recovery and Advisory center.

As Texas and other Gulf coast areas make final storm preparations, now is a good time to gather insurance information and policies.  Hunton & Williams attorneys, Michael Levine and John Eichman provide important information in the linked article published by The Texas Lawbook concerning insurance issues that are likely to arise in the storm’s wake, including potentially applicable coverages that could go overlooked without proper guidance.

For more information, please visit our Hurricane Insurance Recovery and Advisory center.

As Texas and other Gulf coast areas make final storm preparations, now is a good time to gather insurance information and policies. Hunton & Williams insurance attorneys, Michael Levine and Andrea DeField provide important information in this linked Client Alert concerning insurance issues that are likely to arise in the storm’s wake, including potentially applicable coverages that could go overlooked without proper guidance.

For more information, please visit our Hurricane Insurance Recovery and Advisory center.

Law360 sought the perspective of Walter Andrews, head of Hunton & Williams LLP’s insurance coverage practice, when collecting its list of cases to watch in 2017. Andrews identified a case pending with the Texas Supreme Court – USAA Texas Lloyds Co. v. Menchaca, which we reported on in October.  As Andrews explained to Law360, “If the Texas Supreme Court comes down in the policyholder’s favor here, it would provide a substantial weapon for policyholders’ arsenals, as far as what they have to [use against] insurers that don’t reasonably investigate claims. That would create a real incentive for insurance companies to timely and reasonably investigate claims.”

As a reminder about the case, Gail Menchaca filed a claim with her homeowners insurer USAA for damage sustained in Hurricane Ike. USAA determined that the claim was covered, but did not exceed her deductible and, thus, refused to make payment under the policy. Ms. Menchaca, whose loss estimates exceeded the deductible, sued for breach of contract and violation of the Texas Insurance Code. The jury found that USAA had not breached the policy, but, nevertheless, was liable for failure to conduct a reasonable investigation of her claim – a decision affirmed by the Texas Court of Appeals. The case was argued to the Texas Supreme Court in October, and awaits a decision.

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