For the second time in two months, a federal court in Washington state has rejected an insurer’s attempt to avoid the consequences of its wrongful failure to defend its insured by effectively changing its mind and later—in this case much later—offering a defense. Continue Reading In Washington, insurers can’t “unring the bell” after wrongful denial of coverage
The Washington Court of Appeals recently held that the obligation to act in “good faith” applies to the adjuster working for an insurer, not just the insurer that employed the adjuster. This rule not only permits insureds to go directly after the person at the insurance company responsible for denying a claim in bad faith, but it may also allow insureds to keep state-law claims filed in state court right where they were filed. Continue Reading Adjusters may be personally liable under Washington law
The Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company, and its lawyers, recently had a rough couple of days in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. On August 24 and 25, that court issued orders in Meier v. The Travelers Home & Marine Insurance Co. and Bagley v. Travelers Home & Marine Insurance Co. In both cases, Travelers was ordered to produce documents and deposition testimony that it had attempted to withhold based on the attorney-client privilege and/or the work-product doctrine. Continue Reading Washington courts continue to expand policyholder access to insurer files
As I wrote in an earlier blog post (see my August 10, 2015 article here), insurers have a duty to defend their policyholders against any potentially covered loss, which means that insurers are required to defend and attempt to settle claims on behalf of their policyholders even when coverage for the underlying claim is uncertain or doubtful. But as a recent case from the Washington Court of Appeals illustrates, insurers may not be off the hook even if the duty to defend does not apply. Washington, like a number of other states, has enacted consumer-protection statutes that can provide powerful remedies to policyholders whose insurers failed to properly investigate claims before denial.
On August 24 2015, Division 1 of the Washington Court of Appeals issued a decision that is certain to make insurers tremble. In Xia v. ProBuilders Specialty Insurance, the court upheld a summary-judgment order holding that the insurer did not breach its duty to defend, but nonetheless left open the possibility that the insured could recover damages under Washington’s Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”) and/or the state’s Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”). Continue Reading Insurer’s claim denial may violate state consumer-protection statutes even when the insurer has no duty to defend
A recent opinion from the Arizona Court of Appeals demonstrates the importance of being aware of varying states’ insurance laws. In Callies v. United Heritage Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. (Mar. 18, 2014), the insureds, a husband and wife who lived in Oregon, were in the middle of a move to Arizona when their moving van and all of its contents were stolen. Their homeowner’s policy covered theft of personal property “while it was anywhere in the world.” At first, the insurer accepted coverage, leading the insureds to believe that only the valuation of their belongings stood between them and recovering for their loss. Continue Reading Choice-of-Law Analysis Makes All the Difference in “First Party” Bad-Faith Case