Theoretically, claims made insurance coverage applies to claims made during the policy period regardless of when the underlying acts took place. The claims made arrangement contrasts with the framework under an occurrence policy, where coverage applies according to when the underlying acts took place, regardless of when the claim is made. But even though claims made coverage is intended to apply to claims made during the policy period, there are sometimes claims made policy provisions that can preclude coverage for some or all of the past acts alleged. These coverage limiting provisions can under certain circumstances substantially limit the past acts coverage available under a claims made policy.
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As I noted in one of the posts in my Nuts and Bolts series about the basics of D&O insurance, the typical D&O insurance policy includes not only obligations for the insurer, but also obligations on the part policyholder as well. Among these policyholder obligations is the duty to cooperate. In most claims, the cooperation duty is not an issue, as the insurer’s requirements and the policyholder’s responses do not lead to conflicts. Unfortunately, from time to time conflicts do arise with regard to the policyholder’s cooperation duty.

In a recent insurance dispute involving the cooperation duties under a CGL policy, the Fifth Circuit held that the cooperation requirements the insurer sought to impose on the policyholder exceeded the policy’s requirements. The decision raises a number of important implications about the cooperation requirement – and about its limits. The Fifth Circuit’s February 26, 2019 opinion in Mid-Continent Casualty Company v. Petroleum Solutions, Inc. can be found here. The Barnes & Thornburg law firm’s April 8, 2019 memo about the decision can be found here.
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One area of potential legal exposure facing corporate executives – including even executives of private companies – is the risk of liability under laws designed to protect competition, including (but definitely not limited to) state and federal antitrust laws. Claims asserting liability under these various legal provisions not only represent a significant liability exposure for corporate executives, but they also present a number of potentially significant issues when it comes to questions of coverage under the typical private company D&O insurance policy. As discussed below, a recent paper discussed a number of these issues; I discuss additional issues below, as well.
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In a ruling that turned on the interpretation of a technical financial term, a federal district court concluded that the Options Trading exclusion in an investment firm’s E&O policy precluded coverage for investor claims arising out of a financial transaction gone bad. In concluding that the exclusion precluded coverage, the court applied a standard financial industry definition to interpret the meaning of a specific policy term. The court’s opinion makes for interesting reading and provides food for thought about the policy placement process generally and about the process of policy interpretation. District of Utah Judge Dale Kimball’s March 1, 2019 opinion in the case can be found here.
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Regular readers know that I frequently write about insurance coverage disputes in which insurers contend that coverage is precluded due to the policyholders’ alleged late provision of notice. All too often, the policyholders end up without coverage as a result of the late notice allegations. In an interesting (albeit confusingly written) decision, a Michigan intermediate appellate court upheld a trial court’s rejection of a professional liability insurer’s late notice argument, finding that in fact the policyholder had provided timely notice of the claim ultimately in dispute, and therefore that the insurer was not entitled to recoup amounts the insurer incurred in defending and settling an arbitration that had been filed against the policyholder. The ruling highlights the fact that notice timeliness disputes often are factually complicated and that careful consideration of the applicable facts can sometimes confirm that a policyholder did in fact comply with the notice requirements. The Michigan Court of Appeals (Oakland Circuit)’s February 26, 2019 opinion can be found here.
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In an interesting recent decision, a court rejected two defenses a Financial Institution Bond insurer asserted in denying coverage for a bank’s losses arising from a $3.6 million loan extended in reliance on documents that proved to have been forged. District Court of Arizona Judge G. Murray Snow, applying Arizona law, rejected the bond insurer’s arguments that the loss did not trigger one of the bond’s insuring agreements and that the notice prejudice rule did not apply to the bond’s coverage. The court’s January 4, 2019 decision can be found here. The Hunton Andrews Kurth law firm’s February 5, 2019 post about the decision on its Insurance Recovery Blog can be found here.
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Claims made policies provide coverage for claims first made during the policy period, but only if the insurer is provided with timely notice of claim. Most claims made policies allow policyholders to provide insurers with a notice of circumstances that may give rise to a claim in the future, in order to make the date of the notice of circumstances as the claims made date for any future claims. A recent Sixth Circuit considered a situation in which a policyholder attempted to provide notice of circumstances, even though, the court later concluded, a claim had already been made. The appellate court concluded that because the policyholder’s notice omitted the circumstance the court considered to represent a claim, the attempted notice was insufficient to provide notice of the actual claim. The court’s decisions raises questions about policyholder’s notice obligations under the policy. The Sixth Circuit’s July 10, 2018 decision can be found here.
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A recent coverage dispute involving a Nevada club’s losses resulting from its employees’ theft from the club’s customers’ credit cards raises interesting issues with implications for coverage questions for other kinds of losses for which policyholders are seeking crime policy coverage. In the recent Nevada club credit card fraud case, District of Nevada Judge Andrew Gordon held that the club’s crime policy did not cover the club’s losses from the employees’ theft of funds from the customers’ credit card accounts because the losses did not result directly from the employees’ theft. Judge Gordon’s August 6, 2018 opinion can be found here. An August 7, 2018 post on the Wiley Rein law firm’s Executive Summary Blog about Judge Gordon’s opinion can be found here.   
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The insurer on the receiving end of the recent Sixth Circuit ruling that the a payment instruction fraud loss is covered under the Computer Fraud section of a Commercial Crime policy has filed a petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc. In its July 27, 2018 petition (here), the insurer contends that in its decision, the Sixth Circuit’s analysis was at odds with its own prior precedent, and as a result the appellate court applied the wrong causation analysis in determining whether or not the fraudulent email “directly” caused the loss of the policyholder, American Tooling Center (ATC).
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