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How these insurance lawsuits differ in Pennsylvania

By Super Lawyers staff

When we think about contract disputes, many of us imagine disagreements about the terms of an employment contract or differing opinions on a company’s obligations in a sales agreement. While these types of conflicts can and do arise, a surprisingly high number of contract disputes actually involve insurance policies. Whether these disagreements are based on an insurer’s breach of contract or bad faith conduct has important repercussions on the type of lawsuit filed in court, as well as the outcome of this type of legal action.

“The basic insurance contract dispute is over whether the policy applies or does not apply, and the policy is the contract,” says Jay M. Levin, an insurance dispute attorney at Offit Kurman in Philadelphia.

Contract Disputes

Although we often don’t think of them as such, insurance policies are a form of contract between a policyholder and their insurance provider. Like any other type of contract, these types of agreements need to be interpreted in order to determine the full extent of coverage. When the language in an insurance policy is subject to more than just a single interpretation, however, the policyholder and the provider could be at odds. For instance, an insurer could conclude that a certain kind of coverage isn’t available or that it is excluded in a particular case and then deny coverage based on that decision. In these cases, the insurer and the insured may need to litigate their contract dispute in court, where successful policyholders can expect to obtain the coverage that they were initially denied under the terms of the original contract.

In any contract dispute, the first step is to carefully examine what the policy says, Levin explains. “You look at the facts of the claim and loss to see what is involved. Usually the insurance company will say what they’re paying, what they’re not, and why. Sometimes it’s a really simple dispute about the amount, where everyone agrees it’s a covered loss. Sometimes it’s more complicated because the company says all or part of the loss isn’t covered because of an exclusion. Then you have to look at the exclusion to see if it applies, and that can get into several other issues.”

Bad Faith Claims

When an insurer fails to approve claims not because of a dispute regarding contract language, but in an effort to cut down on costs or for another improper reason, it could be held liable for bad faith insurance practices.

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ABOUT JAY LEVIN | 267.338.1326

Jay M. Levin is an insurance recovery attorney and serves as the chair of the firm's Insurance Recovery practice group in the Philadelphia office. He focuses his practice on representing policyholders in disputes with insurance companies involving all types of insurance coverage. Jay has extensive litigation experience in multi-million dollar property insurance coverage cases, including suits involving policy construction and application, cause and origin, valuation, and business interruption issues.






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