In the recent and significant Warren v DSG Retail Ltd  EWHC 2168 (QB) decision the High Court in England clarified the limited circumstances in which claims for breach of confidence, misuse of private information and the tort of negligence might be advanced by individuals for compensation for distress relating to a cyber-security breach where the proposed defendant was itself a victim of a third-party cyber-attack. The decision has made it harder to bring free standing/non-statutory cyber-security breach claims in England and Wales where the proposed defendant has not positively caused the breach, and has also brought into question how such claims may be funded going forward (particularly, via “After-the-Event insurance” (“ATE insurance”)).
Imagine you hired a general contractor to renovate the master bathroom of your home. The general contractor hired a subcontractor to do the plumbing work, but the subcontractor botched the job, resulting in a massive leak causing extensive damage to other areas of your home and valuable personal property. You demand full compensation for the loss, but unfortunately the contractors you hired had no assets besides their comprehensive general liability insurance policies.
Will those insurance policies cover this loss? Continue Reading
With new headlines involving sexual harassment and other inappropriate sexual conduct continuing to emerge on a daily basis, insurance coverage for claims that might emerge is something every company should consider.
Recently, media reports have discussed settlements of shareholder derivative claims against members of the boards of directors and other senior executives of public companies. These settlements illustrate both the type of corporate liability that can ensue from allegations that a company turned a blind eye to, or otherwise failed to prevent, sexual misconduct allegations, causing financial and reputational harm to the organization, and the critical role insurance can play in protecting companies and their executives against such claims. Continue Reading
The extraordinary images and reports of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey have filled the news outlets. While the focus remains on the human toll and concern for the well-being of friends, colleagues and business partners who may be personally affected by this disaster, its impact will extend far beyond those whose lives and businesses were immediately disrupted. In the coming days, we will begin to see assessments of the disaster’s impact on businesses from Texas, the Gulf Coast and beyond.
We recently wrote about the California Supreme Court’s decision in Fluor Corporation v. Superior Court to limit the enforceability of clauses in third party liability insurance policies that prohibit the policyholder from assigning its interests in the policy without the insurer’s prior consent. The court held that these so-called anti-assignment clauses are not enforceable after a third party has suffered personal injury or property damage covered under the policy and for which the insured may be liable. A New Jersey appellate court has reached the same conclusion in Givaudan Fragrances Corp. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. There, Givaudan Fragrances Corporation sought coverage under a corporate affiliate’s insurance policies for numerous claims brought against Givaudan for environmental contamination. The appellate court concluded that the policies’ anti-assignment clause was no longer enforceable as to the losses that had occurred before the assignment.
The first line of the Seventh Circuit’s opinion says it all: “This case provides a warning for insurance companies who refuse to defend their insureds.” As the court’s admonishment suggests, insurers that improperly refuse to defend an insured do so at their own risk and – if not done through a reservation of rights or a declaratory judgment action – may waive their coverage defenses in the process.
In a unanimous decision handed down by the California Supreme Court yesterday afternoon in Fluor Corporation v. Superior Court, the court removed a significant obstacle facing companies that want to assign their interests in a third party insurance policy to a successor company as part of a corporate restructuring or sale. It held that an anti-assignment clause in liability policies prohibiting an insured from assigning its interests under the policy without the insurer’s consent is not enforceable after a covered loss, that is, after a third party has suffered personal injury or property damage for which the insured may be liable. The decision overturns the court’s earlier decision in Henkel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. (2003) 29 Cal. 4th 934, in which the state high court held that an anti-assignment clause remains enforceable much longer, until the third party’s claim against the insured has been reduced to a sum of money due, or to become due, under the policy, such as an adverse judgment against the insured in the underlying action. In doing so, the court relied on a California statute first enacted in 1872 that received almost no attention before Fluor and was never considered in Henkel.