Is a commercial policyholder able to get insurance under the terms of its computer fraud coverage (typically offered as part of a crime policy) for a fraud based upon information transmitted by email? Not according to the Fifth Circuit’s recent decision in Apache Corporation v. Great American Insurance Company, which vacated the trial court’s judgment and left the policyholder with a $2.4 million uninsured loss. While the opinion is unpublished and therefore should have limited precedential value, it highlights the importance of reviewing your company’s coverage profile in an effort to close potential gaps in insurance coverage for security breaches and other losses involving computer use.
EIFS litigation is no stranger to New Jersey. EIFS (or “exterior insulation and finish system”) – a popular, post-World War II building system that resembles stucco while simultaneously providing watertight exterior insulation – originated in Europe and migrated to American homes in the late 1960s and early 1970s. According to The New York Times, it was utilized in the construction of “countless homes built in New Jersey,” which meant that the state was deeply affected when it became evident that, installed in a certain way, EIFS trapped water behind its siding and led to crumbling wall sheathing and rampant mold. Nationwide lawsuits ensued and, while a class action settlement was eventually reached with the largest EIFS manufacturer in 2003, New Jersey courts – at every level – returned to EIFS litigation again and again.
Policyholders may still enforce an insurer’s duty to defend under a Commercial General Liability (“CGL”) policy for claims arising out of a data security breach, according to a recent Fourth Circuit decision. While the decision was issued in an unpublished opinion (a mere 18 days after oral argument), the decision represents a significant victory for policyholders seeking insurance coverage for claims arising out of data breaches resulting in the disclosure of personal information.
Attention Corporate Policyholders: Comply With All the Notice Requirements of Your Insurance Policies When Reporting a Claim or Risk Losing All Available Coverage
A recent decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court serves as a strident warning to commercial insureds to make prompt notice of claims under claims-made policies. In Templo Fuente de Vida Corp. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, P.A., the claims-made D&O policy at issue required written notice of a claim “as soon as practicable … and … during the Policy Period.” The insured was served with an underlying complaint on February 21, 2006. It retained defense counsel and filed an answer, but did not provide notice of the claim to its insurer until August 26, 2006 — a delay of six months, yet still within the policy period. The insurer denied coverage for various reasons, including that notice was not provided “as soon as practicable.”
The risks inherent in the maintenance and storage of confidential information present an ongoing challenge to daily operations. Cyber insurance may be an appropriate mechanism to mitigate those risks. But – BUYER BEWARE – broad exclusions and other conditions in a cyber policy can hack into coverage and leave your company uninsured and exposed to significant liability for defense costs, liability payments, and regulatory damages.
New York Court of Appeals Reconsiders and Holds That an Insurer May Invoke Policy Exclusions Despite Wrongful Refusal to Defend
The New York Court of Appeals has vacated its recent decision in K2 Investment Group, LLC v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co., reverting to the majority position that an insurer breaching its duty to defend an insured is not barred from relying on policy exclusions to defend a later claim for indemnification. The case originated from a related lawsuit where K2 Investment Group, LLC and ATAS Management Group, LLC (collectively, the “LLCs”) sued an attorney for legal malpractice.
Gibbons is proud to announce that Thomas J. Cafferty, a Director in the Gibbons Business & Commercial Litigation Department, Michael R. Griffinger, a Director in the Gibbons Business & Commercial Litigation Department, and John T. Wolak, Insurance Practice Team Leader, received “Lawyer of the Year” designations in the 2014 edition of Best Lawyers®.
Pennsylvania Superior Court Defines Standard for Determining Insurer’s Control of Litigation and Settlement When Seeking to Defend Insured Subject to a Reservation of Rights
The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently set forth a new standard for determining when an insured must seek the insurer’s consent to settle underlying third-party claims where the insurer had previously offered to defend the insured under a reservation of its right to decline coverage for any adverse judgment that might be entered against the insured later.
Insurers Doing Business in New Jersey are Being Increasingly Precluded from Arbitrating Out-of-State
In Allied Professionals Insurance Co. v. Jodar, New Jersey’s Appellate Division affirmed a trial court order denying enforcement of an arbitration choice-of-forum provision in a medical malpractice insurance contract. The decision is notable because it broadly interprets prior Appellate Division case law, reaches a contrary result to a recent Law Division case where the issue went unchallenged, and paves the way for further extension of the result.
Broader Coverage May Still Be No Coverage At All: The First Department’s Application of the Prior Pending Claim Exclusion
The recent decision by New York’s Appellate Division, First Department in Executive Risk Indemnity, Inc. v Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., serves as a grim reminder to insureds to pay careful attention at the time of policy renewal to existing demands from third parties, applicable terms and conditions of expiring and renewal policies, differences in the scope of coverage, and appropriate disclosures. Those who do not run the risk of foregoing the insurance they thought they had without even realizing it.