continuity of coverage

Regular readers know that among the recurring themes on this site are concerns about problems with the application of notice rules to preclude insurance for claims that would otherwise be covered under the policy. These problems are, in my view, particularly abrupt where a claims is made during one policy period and the notice is provided during the policy period of a subsequent renewal policy issued by the same insurer. I have argued that continuity of coverage between the two policies and with the same insurer ought to be taken into consideration and that coverage should be denied only if the insurer can show that the late notice of claim during the renewal period prejudiced the insurer’s interests. In a recent appeal, the Ninth Circuit rejected this continuity of coverage argument. The appellate court’s opinion, though brief, raises a number of interesting points, as discussed below.
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Under claims made insurance policies, policyholders must provide timely notice of claim to their insurers in order to trigger coverage. Late notice is among the most common reasons that insurers deny coverage for claims. In order to try to avoid a coverage denial for late notice, policyholders have tried to argue that late notice should not preclude coverage where the policyholder renewed the coverage and where successive policies with the same insurer are in place. In a recent decision, an Ohio appellate court, applying Ohio law, rejected a policyholder’s attempt to rely on this kind of continuity of coverage argument. The court’s decision raises some interesting issues, as discussed below.
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As anyone involved in the world of D&O insurance knows, a frequently recurring coverage issue is the question of whether or not the insured has provided timely notice of claim as required by the policy. These kinds of  disputes takes a variety of forms, but one particular recurring variation involves the question whether or not the policyholder has satisfied the policy’s notice requirements when a claim is made against the policyholder during the policy period of one policy but the policyholder does not provide notice until the policy period of a subsequent renewal policy. That was the issue in a case recently decided by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the appellate court affirmed the district court’s holding that the policyholder’s provision of notice during the renewal policy of a claim made during a prior policy period did not satisfy the applicable notice requirements. Because this is a recurring claims issue, I have some thoughts and suggestions about this situation, below. The Sixth Circuit’s May 31, 2019 opinion in the case can be found here.
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