Put simply, in insurance recovery we help our clients get claims paid by their insurance carrier following a loss. We get involved in dealing with insurance companies on behalf of our clients at several different stages by advising our clients with coverage opinions, analyzing whether coverage exists for a given situation, and assisting in negotiations with insurance carriers following a loss but before following a lawsuit. Thus, we assist in assembling and submitting claims. We also advise our clients during on-going litigation about potential insurance consequences. And we represent our clients in lawsuits against the insurance carriers if they do not pay or provide a defense lawyer when the policy requires.
Insurance 101: Types of Policies And Other Basics
Insurance policies protect against potential losses businesses may face. Typical policies will include general commercial liability policies and director and officer policies. Professional services companies – law firms, doctor’s practices, accounting firms, financial advisers – may have specialized professional liability or malpractice policies. Larger businesses may have even further specialized policies, or riders or add-ons to their policies, to cover their unique risks such as crime policies, cyber or data coverage policies, intellectual property specific coverage, among others. Although the names of these policies give a general idea of the types of losses they cover, never assume that a loss will fall outside of the coverage provided simply because it “doesn’t seem to fit.” The best practice is to call an attorney that focuses on reviewing insurance policies for policyholders and getting a coverage analysis.
The other big difference between types of policies are claims made v. occurrence policies. Briefly, claims made policies cover claims for losses made during the policy period. In other words, if the policyholder makes a claim in 2016, then the policy for 2016 applies to coverage. An occurrence policy covers losses during the policy period in which they occur, regardless of when the claim is made. So if the loss occurred in 2015, but is discovered in 2017, and the claim is made in 2017, then the 2015 policy applies. There are more complicated rules that apply but these basics provide a general understanding. Again, the difference between these policies is very important for determining whether coverage exists.
When insurance coverage might apply what to do – give notice and get the policy.
We cannot stress how important it is to get the actual policy before we can give meaningful advice to any client about insurance coverage. We also cannot stress enough how important it is to give notice to the carriers as soon as potential loss arises. Failure to give timely notice can result in all loss of rights under the policy, particularly with claims made policies.
Whenever a business has a situation where insurance coverage might apply we should consider the following steps:
- Get copies of all insurance policies you currently have.
- Give those policies to an attorney for a coverage analysis.
- Give notice to your insurance carriers immediately. If you work with an insurance broker, you can have the broker do so.
- After getting a coverage analysis, plan a course of action with the insurance recovery attorney you’ve consulted.
Of course, Offit Kurman has a significant insurance recovery practice and experience dealing with insurance companies in a wide range of disputes. We would be happy to review and discuss any insurance issues that arise, but the most important thing you can do when there is a potential insurance coverage question is to consult with an attorney that can advise you on your options and give timely notice to your insurance company of the claim.
For more information about insurance recovery, please contact us.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With over 140 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eleven offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City regions. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.
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