All posts by Mark Miller

Insurance Recovery Law: History’s Best Decisions: The Brillhart Decision

 

The next case in our series Insurance Recovery Law: History’s Best Decisions turns back the clock to 1942 for the Brillhart decision.  Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co. of Am., 316 U.S. 491 (1942).  Although decided in 1942, Brillhart is extremely valuable today..

Nowadays, corporate policyholders are facing an all-to-common scenario.  When a business tenders a claim, an insurance carrier should evaluate the claim, and provide a defense.  Many insurers have abandoned this approach for a more adversarial route.  With those insurers, rather than providing a defense, they sue seeking a declaration of no coverage.  Their strategy is to sue when the corporate policyholder is weakest, and that time is typically just after the corporate policyholder has been sued in an underlying lawsuit.  Favorite forum for these insurers, Federal Court.

If the rash of insurer-filed declaratory judgment lawsuits are the epidemic, Brillhart is the cure.  In reality, insurance coverage lawsuits have no business in federal court, and Brillhart sets the standard for the doctrine of abstention, which provides a mechanism for dismissing insurance company filed federal Court declaratory judgment actions.

In today’s video, Mark Miller explains how this often overlooked doctrine can be used to help policyholders.

Continue reading

Insurance Recovery Law: History’s Best Decisions: The Penford Case

 

Our next case in our series “Insurance Recovery Law: History’s Best Decisions” is the Penford case from 2011.  See Penford Corp. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., 662 F.3d 497 (8th Cir. 2011).   Although this case had a tragic outcome, it illustrates what not to do in the corporate insurance arena. 

In Penford, after years of litigation, the insurance broker lost the case.  If case was a one-off situation, one could understand a mistake being made.  We highlight this case, however, because the way Penford and its broker handled this claim, is similar to the way that many claims are handled today.  

The problems in Penford are raised whenever an insurance broker attempts to act as a claims advocate.  Watch the video to understand what happened, and to devise a plan that properly utilizes insurance broker expertise and contacts to settle a claim. 

Continue reading

D&O Insurance Coverage for Government Investigations

 

This video addresses a real life situation were a D&O insurance carrier agreed to pay for defense of an investigation, but attempted to pay for only half of the defense costs incurred.  As is typical for these kinds of governmental investigations, both the SEC and DOJ were involved.  One agency issued a subpoena triggering coverage, and the other agency monitored the situation.  The D&O insurance carrier alleged that there were two investigations, and offered to pay only half of the costs incurred. 

Please watch the video to learn more about how to defeat this common argument.

D&O Insurance Coverage for Government Investigations

Continue reading

Reversing Insurance Claim Denials Part 3: Negotiating a Resolution

 

 

In our final installment of this series addressing best practices that businesses can employ to reverse business insurance claims, Mark Miller addresses strategies that can be employed to negotiate a favorable settlement.  At every step, insurance carriers pass the ball back to the policyholder, hoping that the policyholder will go away.  Insurance claims adjusters, with a slew of insurance company lawyers behind the scenes, drive the process, and are often unwilling to change their position unless they see both corporate and professional risk.  A policyholders prime objective, therefore, is to create risk for the insurance carrier and the individuals involved in the claims adjustment process.  If done in a highly professional manner, the insurance carrier will make it known that they want to settle.  If done improperly, a mess is about to ensue.

To learn more about the process, and how to successfully walk the line, watch the video.

Continue reading

Reversing Insurance Claim Denials Part 2: Credibly Analyze Claim Denial Letters

 

 

In Part 2 of this series on businesses and legal strategies that can be employed to reverse insurance claim denials, we address strategies for responding to insurance claim denial letters.  In this video Mark Miller explains that the next step in dealing with a denied business insurance claim is to credibly analyze the insurance carrier’s denial letter, taking apart, and responding to, each and every argument raised. 

When responding, there is one additional strategic step that policyholders should take.  Watch the video to learn about more about the process, and best practices for reversing a claim.

Continue reading

Reversing Insurance Claim Denials Part 1: Don’t Believe Claim Denial Letters

 

 

Today we start a three part series addressing the best strategies that policyholders can use to reverse business insurance claims denials.  In this post, Miller Friel co-founding partner Mark Miller explains that the first, and perhaps the most important step, is to understand that the overwhelming majority of claim denial letters are false.  The video addresses the primary purposes of claim denial letters, and a more sinister trick that lies within claim denial letters that needs to be heeded to preserve coverage. 

 

Watch the video to learn more.

Continue reading

Property Insurance Claims: The Value of a Second Look.

 

 

Property insurance claims can be extremely complex, and things are not always as they are portrayed by the insurance industry.  In this video, Mark Miller gives a perfect example of how property insurance claims can benefit from a second look by an insurance recovery lawyer.  This story is a real life example where a quick review of claim documents by an insurance recovery lawyer resulted in several million dollars of value to the client.

 To hear Mark’s story, watch the video.

Continue reading

Insurance Recovery Law: What 17th Century Piracy Teaches Us About Property Insurance

 

 

What does 17th century piracy teach us about property insurance? Lots.  Although “Sue and Labor” clauses were first used in the 1600’s to deal with the loss of ships to pirates, that language is still in use today, and it is just as valuable now as it was back then.  Here, we address a classic snow removal case in New York, where tens of millions of dollars in snow removal costs were covered, despite the fact that there was no damage to property.  

Watch the video to learn how avoiding pirates relates to railroad switching equipment. 

Continue reading

Insurance Recovery Law: History’s Best Decisions: Fountain Powerboat

 

 

Today we present the first part of our series, Insurance Recovery Law: History’s Best Decisions. The topic of this video is perhaps the most important business interruption insurance decision of all time, Fountain Powerboat Indus. v Reliance Ins. Co., 19 F Supp 2d 552, (ED NC 2000).  In this case, The Fountain Powerboat company of North Carolina had a work slow down as the result of hurricane Floyd.  They pursued relief under their property insurance policy pursuant to an “ingress egress” provision.  Their insurance carrier denied coverage based on an all to common insurance industry custom and practice — denying coverage because there was no physical damage to insured property.  The Court flatly rejected insurance industry custom and practice in favor of insurance policy language.  

Watch the video find out what happened, and to find out why this is one of the most important insurance recovery law decisions of all time.

Insurance Recovery Law

Miller Friel, PLLC

Continue reading

Five Things You Need to Know About Property Insurance: 5) The Only Way To Maximize The Value Of Your Claim Is To Understand The Law

 

 

In our final installment of our series Five Things You Need To Know About Property Insurance, Mark Miller addresses the importance of understanding the law.    

The phrase “industry customs and practice” describes what insurance companies do.  These are the normal procedures and practices used in the insurance industry to adjust property claims.  These practices, though, can be markedly different from policy language and the law.  If you ask about an issue, and you hear, “this is just how we do things,” you should be concerned.  Insurance industry custom and practice, more often than not, has nothing to do with policy language or the law interpreting that policy language.  It is also entirely irrelevant in determining what rights are afforded under the insurance policies. 

Watch the video to learn more.

Continue reading