Daniel Wolf

This blog’s readers know that a claim arising from the current coronavirus-related outbreak could present a number of insurance-related issues, including, among many others, perennial issues involving timeliness of notice of claim. In the following guest post, Daniel Wolf, an associate at the Gilbert LLP law firm, take a look at notice of claim considerations businesses may want to take into account with respect to potential coronavirus-related claims  A version of this article first appeared on his firm’s blog. I would like to thank Daniel for allowing me to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Daniel’s article.
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Regular readers of this blog know that among my hobby horse issues are the various questions surrounding late notice of claim. Timeliness is of course a standard conditions for complying with an insurance policy’s notice requirements. Policies also contain other notice conditions, such as, for example, where the notice must be sent and so on. In an interesting recent ruling, the Fifth Circuit examined a professional liability insurance policy’s conditions of notice, finding that while the timely provision of notice is a material condition, others of the policy’s notice conditions were immaterial, and held, applying Texas law, that the insurer could be relieved of its coverage obligations for the policyholder’s failure to comply with an immaterial condition only if the failure prejudiced the insurer.
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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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nystate3A New York appellate court, applying New York law, has rejected a D&O insurer’s argument based on alleged late notice of claim that it had no coverage obligations for amounts Sirius XM Radio  had incurred in underlying litigation, holding that the insurer’s policy was ambiguous on the timeliness requirements for notice of interrelated claims. A