Blog Archives

California Court of Appeal: Insurers Not Liable Under the California Insurance Frauds Prevention Act

In its recent decision, People ex rel. Ellinger v. Magill, et al., —Cal.Rptr.3d—, No. E076378, 2022 WL 1077988 (Cal. Ct. App., Mar. 18, 2022), the California Court of Appeal refused to extend liability under California’s Insurance Frauds Prevention Act (IFPA) to an insurer’s claims handling practices. Insurance Code Section 1871.7 allows a party to file a qui tam action[1] for violations of certain insurance claim related conduct described in the rule itself. Section 1871.7 also incorporates prohibited conduct from other statutes, such as California Penal Code Section 550, as permissible bases for the qui tam action. A person who violates Section 1871.7 is subject to “a civil penalty of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) nor more than ten

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

Montana: Unambiguous Exclusions Enforced Despite Lack of Table of Contents Required Under Statute

A recent Supreme Court decision, High Country Paving, Inc. v. United Fire & Cas. Co., 2022 MT 72, ¶ 1, answered in the negative a question certified by a federal district court regarding tensions inherent in Montana’s  Property and Casualty Insurance Policy Simplification Act (“PSA”).  The Ninth Circuit had submitted the following state law question to this Court: Whether, when an insurance policy does not include either a table of contents or a notice section of important provisions, in violation of Mont. Code Ann. § 33-15-337(2), the insurer may nonetheless rely on unambiguous exclusions or limitations to the policy’s coverage, given that § 33-15-334(2) provides that § 33-15-337(2) is “not intended to increase the risk assumed under policies subject to”

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

Eleventh Circuit (Florida):  No Bad Faith for Investigating Claim

On February 15, 2022, the United States Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the Southern District of Florida’s summary judgment victory for GEICO, finding that no reasonable jury could conclude that GEICO had operated in bad faith with respect to its handling of a wrongful death claim against its insured. Ellis v. GEICO Gen. Ins. Co., No. 21-12159, 2022 WL 454176 (11th Cir. Feb. 15, 2022).  This case reinforces that under Florida law, an insurer may take a reasonable time to investigate a claim, and that, absent time to investigate or a settlement demand, an insurer need not voluntarily tender policy limits.  About The Author

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

New Statute May Spell Trouble for New Jersey Insurers

On January 19, 2022, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed S.B. 1559, known as the “New Jersey Insurance Fair Conduct Act,” which allows motorists to sue their insurance companies over “unreasonably” late or denied coverage benefits and unfair settlement practices.  The bill, passing through both houses of New Jersey’s legislature without substantial amendment, would allow prospective plaintiffs to pursue bad faith litigation against their uninsured/underinsured motorist carriers and employees for “unreasonably” denying coverage for claims or delivering benefits “unreasonably” late after a claim. About The Author

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

Fifth Circuit Weighs in on Aftermath of Texas Supreme Court’s Decisions Affecting Insurers’ Pre-Appraisal Award Payments and Damages under the Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act

Just a few short years ago, there was a bright line rule under Texas law concerning appraisal awards.  If an insurer timely paid an appraisal award, that payment extinguished all of the insurer’s contractual and extracontractual liability to the insured.  See, e.g., Garcia v. State Farm Lloyds, 514 S.W.3d 257, 264-273 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2016, pet. denied); Anderson v. Am Risk Ins. Co., 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 6538, *10 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, no pet.); Perry v. United Servs. Auto Ass’n, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10108, *7 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2018, no pet.); Gonzales v. Allstate Vehicle and Property Ins. Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26203, *3 (S.D. Tex. 2019).  The Fifth Circuit had previously agreed, making an Erie guess

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

Fifth Circuit Finds Potential Coverage for Data Breach; Interprets “Publication” Broadly

Using general contract interpretation principles, the Fifth Circuit reversed summary judgment in favor of an insurer and found a duty to defend Landry’s in a data breach lawsuit. Landry’s Inc. v. The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, No. 19-20430 (July 21, 2021). Landry’s contracted with Paymentech to process credit card payments at its restaurants, hotels, and casinos. Paymentech discovered a data breach across fourteen Landry’s locations resulting in $20 million of fraudulent credit card payments. The data breach involved an unauthorized program installed on Landry’s payment-processing devices. The program searched data from credit cards’ magnetic strips, including the cardholder’s name, card number, expiration date, and internal verification code, as the information was being routed through the payment-processing systems.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

Iowa Supreme Court Rejects Restaurant’s Allegations of Bad Faith and Breach of Contract After Appraisal

The Iowa Supreme Court recently reversed the appellate court’s denial of an insurer’s motion for a directed verdict, finding that United Fire did not breach the insurance policy and did not commit bad faith during a property appraisal. Luigi’s, Inc. v. United Fire and Cas. Co., No. 19-1669, — N.W.2d —-, 2021 WL 1932711 (Iowa May 14, 2021). About The Author

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

Lack of Notice No Excuse for Failure to Settle

An insurer can no longer claim its lack of notice of a lawsuit against its insured excuses it for failing to settle the suit after the Georgia Supreme Court’s recent decision in GEICO Indemnity Co. v. Whiteside, Case No. S21Q0227 (Ga. April 19, 2021). In Whiteside, the Georgia Supreme Court held that an insurer’s bad faith failure to settle a claim may result in liability for judgments in excess of the insured’s policy, even in cases where the insured also breaches its contractual duty to notify the insurer of a suit brought against it. About The Authors

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

A Jury Must Find An Insurer Acted Unreasonably In Order To Find Bad Faith Failure to Settle

On March 8, 2021 the California Court of Appeal, reversing a $10 million verdict against Farmers, found that a jury must specifically find unreasonable acts by an insurer to support a “failure to settle” bad faith finding.  Pinto v. Farmers Ins. Exch., No. B295742, __ Cal. App. 5th __, 2021 WL 857776 (Cal. Ct. App. Mar. 8, 2021).  The court also clarified that it has never held that a failure to accept a reasonable settlement is per se unreasonable under California law.  The case involved a single-vehicle rollover accident, which left the claimant, a passenger in Farmers’ insured vehicle, a quadriplegic. Farmers issued an auto insurance policy with a $50,000 each person and $100,000 each occurrence limit to the owner

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith

Tips for Avoiding First-Party “Bad Faith” in Illinois

Illinois does not recognize bad faith as an independent tort. In the first-party context, bad faith is a purely statutory construct which hinges upon whether an insurer’s conduct was “vexatious and unreasonable.” Section 155 of the Illinois Insurance Code (215 ILCS 5/155) provides the exclusive remedy[1] for bad faith conduct by an insurer and also preempts other causes of action that at their core constitute a breach of good faith and fair dealing.[2] Section 154.6 of the Illinois Insurance Code (215 ILCS 5/154.6) enumerates 18 improper claim practices. Although these practices are not dispositive of a Section 155 claim, a court may properly consider the enumerated actions when determining whether an insurer’s conduct was vexatious and unreasonable.[3] As a result,

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Bad Faith
Avoiding Insurance Bad Faith
Cozen O’Connor represents insurance clients in jurisdictions throughout the U.S. against statutory and common law first- and third-party extracontractual claims for actual and consequential damages, penalties, punitive and exemplary damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, and coverage payments. Whether bad faith claims are addenda to a broader coverage matter or are central to the complaint, Cozen O’Connor attorneys know how to efficiently respond to extracontractual causes of action. More
Subscribe For Updates

nobadfaith

Cozen O’Connor Blogs