As the number and severity of cyberattacks rise, the importance of insurance coverage to offset resultant loss becomes increasingly important. An opinion issued by the Ohio Court of Appeals is a happy reminder that there may be coverage for cyber-related loss even if you did not buy cyber-specific insurance and that policyholders should review their entire insurance portfolio when confronted by a cyber loss.
The frequency and severity of cyber incidents, particularly ransomware attacks targeting businesses and critical infrastructure organizations, have been on the increase and are unlikely to subside anytime soon. Higher claim counts and loss severity have led to significant and continuing increases in cyber insurance losses. Insurers have made up for this increased risk profile by passing the costs onto consumers in two ways—by both increasing premiums and attempting to narrow coverage.
This week the Louisiana Court of Appeal found coverage for coronavirus and COVID-19 claims by reading the actual insurance policy language and relying on long-established precedent governing the interpretation of insurance policies. Particularly, the court found that the presence of coronavirus on the insured premises that slowed down the business operations of the policyholder triggered all-risk coverage because it caused “physical loss or damage” to the policyholder’s business property. The court rejected the insurer’s arguments that coverage was not available absent (a) any physical or structural alteration to the property; (b) completely shutting down the policyholder’s business operations; and (c) rendering that property uninhabitable. The court also rejected the insurer’s argument that the policy’s “period of restoration” clause—which indicated the interruption period ends when damaged property is restored, repaired or replaced—required a physical alteration to property, holding the policyholder’s efforts to remove coronavirus by cleaning or disinfection fell within the “period of restoration.”
An oft-repeated maxim in self-help literature is: “Do not let your circumstances define who you are.” In a similar vein, policyholders should proactively manage situations in which known circumstances may potentially give rise to an eventual claim.
Suppose a company perceives the potential risk of litigation or a government investigation. This may not necessarily be the result of any known wrongful conduct—such risk may just be inherent in the company’s business model or within the company’s industry. When the company’s D&O insurance policy (or employment liability or professional liability, as the case may be) is on the verge of expiring, the company may be faced with the decision whether to report such circumstances to the insurer under the policy’s “notice of circumstances” (NOC) provision, which permits the policyholder to provide notice of facts or events that may give rise to claims in the future. If such notice is given within the specified time, the insurer will treat any subsequent claims arising out of the noticed circumstances as claims first made within the policy period, even if the claims are brought much later.
If you were to look for a quick answer regarding whether a commercial general liability (CGL) policy covers damage resulting from faulty workmanship under Pennsylvania law, you’d likely come out believing the answer is “no.” Many article headlines, purported state surveys, and news reports come to that conclusion based on the general finding that faulty workmanship causing damages only to the work itself is not an “occurrence” under the standard CGL insurance policy definition. But this analysis misses a critical nuance in the case law and the important distinction between damage to the negligent contractor’s work and damage to “other property.”
In January, colleagues Joseph D. Jean, Alexander D. Hardiman, Benjamin D. Tievsky, Janine Stanisz and Stephen S. Asay examined New York’s Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act, which amended New York Civil Practice Law & Rules (CPLR) § 3101(f) to require defendants in civil cases to disclose voluminous and potentially sensitive insurance materials. When signing the act into law, Governor Kathy Hochul requested that the legislature enact amendments that would reduce the burden on litigants. On February 25, 2022, Gov. Hochul signed into law a variety of amendments that address some—but not all—of the concerns with New York. In “New York Amends Recently Enacted Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act Requirements,” our colleagues take a closer look at latest changes to CPLR § 3101(f).
Over the past few years, ransomware attacks have increased in frequency and demand size. And, increasingly, those attacks have targeted businesses and critical infrastructure organizations from across the globe. This trend is likely to continue. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency noted that cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom assess that “if the ransomware criminal business model continues to yield financial returns for ransomware actors, ransomware incidents will become more frequent. Every time a ransom is paid, it confirms the viability and financial attractiveness of the ransomware criminal business model.”
Early in 2021, we wrote about potential insurance implications that could arise from the then-new Biden Administration’s expected regulatory priorities. Among other things, we noted that heightened scrutiny on coal ash was expected. On January 11, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that prediction, issuing a press release announcing “key steps” it is taking to “protect groundwater from coal ash contamination.” As companies with coal ash liabilities consider EPA’s new guidance and next steps, they should be aware that they may have insurance that could cover some of their coal ash cleanup costs.
Defendants in New York state court are now subject to some of the most extensive liability insurance disclosure requirements in the nation. On December 31, 2021, Governor Hochul signed into law, effective immediately, the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act, amending New York Civil Practice Law & Rules (CPLR) § 3101(f) to require defendants in civil cases to disclose voluminous and potentially sensitive insurance materials, including applications for insurance policies and information concerning other claims.
In New York Enacts Sweeping New Insurance Disclosure Requirements for State Court Litigants, Joseph D. Jean, Alexander D. Hardiman, Benjamin D. Tievsky, Janine Stanisz, Stephen S. Asay examine the new requirements more closely and present guiding principles for compliance.