When adding new or additional layers to an insurance program, policyholders are often asked to sign a “warranty letter” providing comfort to the prospective insurer that the policyholder is not aware of impending claims. Typical warranty letters include both subjective and objective representations, indicating that the policyholder has both no actual (or subjective) knowledge of any impending claims and no reasonable (or objective) expectation that such a claim will arise. If a claim later arises, these warranties may provide a basis for full rescission of a policy or create an exclusion for claims that the policyholder knew or should have known would be filed. And when a warranty is poorly worded or overly broad, it may give rise to a morass of coverage litigation.
With few exceptions, an application or warranty statement is an essential document to secure insurance coverage, and can actually possess great power to determine or limit coverage. Insurers may seek renewal applications or updated warranty statements, even when a policy is merely a renewal. While the application process may seem almost ceremonial, failure to engage fully in the application and warranty process can lead to unnecessary coverage disputes, or even the loss of coverage.