Insurance Coverage / Litigation
Clients trust our judgment and experience in matters of insurance litigation and coverage and for regulatory advice.
Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass LLP represents the insurance industry in all aspects of its business, including the preparation and conduct of litigation and the steps companies can take to avoid it. Our track record in the defense of insurers involved in coverage issues under first-party and third-party policies is enviable. We regularly handle situations involving single-event building claims, as well as complex losses involving multiple locations caused by catastrophic events. We are often entrusted with our insurer clients’ most sophisticated and complex issues involving business machinery, multi-faceted manufacturing operations, and catastrophic losses implicating risks in the energy sector. We also handle lawsuits involving agents and brokers, declaratory judgment actions, proceedings before administrative agencies, subrogation cases, and various other types of litigation, as well as regulatory matters.
Clients frequently ask us to analyze their most difficult coverage questions. This work involves reviewing the policy language of any clause, exclusion, limitation, or other provision that might relate to coverage or the amount of a claim. We then advise clients on the appropriate course of conduct with regard to an insured, and on how best to protect themselves from improper or excessive claims.
Mound Cotton is “a longstanding player in the New York market thanks to its experience and broad range of insurance coverage services.” Clients are quick to highlight the firm’s “deep subject matter expertise and attentiveness to their business needs.”
Chambers USA 2013
We have practiced in many jurisdictions across the U.S. and globally. Our attorneys have had years of experience in jury and non-jury trials, appellate arguments, and administrative and arbitration proceedings.
Many of our partners regularly write articles, author treatises, and lecture extensively within their areas of expertise.
More of our partners were named insurance coverage Super Lawyers for 2015 and 2016 than any other firm’s, regardless of size, in the New York Metro Area.
First-Party Insurance Practice
The kinds of issues we have litigated for our broad range of insurance clients include:
- Threshold coverage questions relating to the extent to which all-risk or DIC property insurance policies might be called upon.
- Various complex circumstances surrounding a claim, including concurrent causes of loss, the timing and number of occurrences, and non-fortuity.
- The nature, scope, and extent of the coverage afforded by various forms of business interruption insurance.
- Onshore/offshore energy sector losses, including “delay start-up” coverage.
- Catastrophic losses, such as the coverage issues arising out of the World Trade Center disaster, the 2005 hurricanes, the Japan earthquake, and Superstorm Sandy.
“The team there is good at untying fairly complex fact patterns and drilling down to the real issues.”
Chambers USA 2016
- All facets of environmental law, including issues involving federal statutes such as CERCLA and “Superfund” and directives of the EPA and state and local agencies, as well as coverage questions and litigation on behalf of first-party carriers.
- Excess, bad faith, extra-contractual, and punitive damages claims in the context of first-party coverage.
- Toxic tort litigation, including mass tort claims involving injuries caused by asbestos, asbestos-in-building coverage issues, lead-paint litigation, and mold-related claims and lawsuits, on behalf of first-party insurers.
- Arson and water-damage claims and other cases involving fraud and misrepresentation by insureds, public adjusters, brokers, accountants, salvors, and appraisers, whether before or after losses have been sustained.
- Specialized coverage, such as marine and aviation risks, plant efficacy and production guaranty insurance, residual value insurance, and other financial guaranty insurance products.
- Subrogation and indemnity recoveries.
- The interaction between insurance policies that afford coverage for a particular loss, e.g., all-risk, boiler, machinery, or between competing “other insurance” clauses.
- Transit claims, including air, ocean, motor, and rail carriage worldwide.
- The extent to which fidelity bonds can be called upon when financial institutions collapse.
- Internet liability and e-commerce claims.
Third-Party Insurance Practice
MCWG’s third-party coverage practice is broad and diverse. The firm has decades of experience providing coverage advice to insurers, brokers, third-party administrators and others, and representing them in complex multi-layer, multi-party toxic tort and mass tort coverage litigation, including actions seeking coverage of personal injury and property damage claims involving asbestos, silica, mold, benzene, coal dust, lead paint, popcorn lung, pharmaceutical products and medical devices, cell phone radiation, sexual abuse, pollution, and contamination.
We also regularly provide coverage advice and litigation services to insurers, contractors, and subcontractors in connection with coverage disputes arising out of construction projects, multi-family dwellings, commercial structures, and others, including issues involving “your work” exclusions, “additional insured” coverage, priority of coverage, and “personal and advertising injury.” We routinely represent insurance carriers in contribution claims against other insurers involving “additional insured” and “other insurance” issues, among others.
Because of the firm’s extensive experience in defending liability claims, MCWG is regularly retained by insurers to represent their insureds, ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to smaller business entities and individuals, in a wide variety of matters involving bodily injury and property damage throughout the country.
- Toxic tort cases, such as claims for exposure to asbestos, lead paint, mold, and other chemical and biological elements and compounds.
- Product defect and injury claims.
- Environmental contamination and spill cleanup claims.
- Construction work-site accident claims, including those triggering New York labor law liabilities.
- Premises liability claims.
- Personal injury claims.
- Common law and contractual indemnification claims.
Crisis Management (Including Political Risk) Coverage
MCWG has been counseling clients on Crisis Management insurance for almost as long as these policies have been in existence. The types of Crisis Management forms that MCWG has studied, interpreted, guided, drafted, and litigated include:
- “Accidental Product Contamination.”
- “Malicious Product Tampering.”
- Comprehensive “Contaminated Products” coverage, which includes both “accidental and “malicious” triggers, as well as “government recall” and “product extortion.”
- “Kidnap, Ransom, Extortion.”
- “Product Recall.”
The firm has a dedicated team of professionals who understand the intricacies of the issues presented by losses in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and consumer goods industries and how the protection provided by these insurance products helps to shape governmental and public perception on the health and safety of these consumables.
Commentators – mainly clients – note that Mound Cotton’s attorneys “have demonstrated vast knowledge of crisis management and are particularly keen on the intricacies involved in handling a crisis management coverage issue.” “They provide quality service to their clients.”
Chambers USA 2015
Also within this niche practice area are losses involving various “war risks,” such as “insurrection,” “revolution,” “civil war,” and “coup d’etat,” and we have handled claims throughout the United States and the world under policies covering “Confiscation, Expropriation, Nationalization,” “Terrorism,” and “Sabotage” losses.
Throughout the years, MCWG has also lent its vast claims experience to underwriters of these products to assist with drafting new forms or modifying existing forms and endorsements, in order to shape these coverages to comport with the demands of the market for Crisis Management Insurance.
We’ve advised our insurance company clients on a broad array of regulatory and transactional matters, including:
- Analysis of the impact of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage.
- Status of existing dependent coverage provisions for domestic partners and civil union partners under inforce group life insurance policies.
- Permissible activities and tasks for 49-state insurance entities.
- Unfair discrimination prohibitions under state insurance laws.
- Potential ERISA preemption of state insurance laws.
- Insurance advertising regulations.
- Subsidization of group life insurance premium rates.
- Self-support requirements under state insurance laws.
- Insurance agent licensing and appointment requirements.
- Life insurance and annuity product filing requirements.
- Extraterritorial filing requirements.
- Insurance company disputes with group policyholders.
- Amendments/restatements of existing group insurance policies.
- Development of a new critical injury insurance policy.
- Structured settlement regulatory requirements.
The following are representative of the matters we handle in our Insolvency/Legacy Business Practice:
- Advised regarding commutation of reinsurance program with liquidated New York insurer.
- Advised owners of 50-state long-term disability company respecting its rehabilitation and possible sale.
- Represented publicly traded U.K. corporation regarding purchase of U.S. reinsurer in run-off.
- Served as co-counsel for cedants’ committee on sale of insolvent professional reinsurer to Swiss holding company.
- Represented liquidator of failed medical malpractice insurer in successful effort to recover reinsurance ceded to Lloyd’s.
- Advised reinsurers of 5-state property/casualty company in liquidation with respect to claims approval and payment.
- Litigated on behalf of reinsurer of failed New York insurer arbitrability of reinsurance contracts with liquidated ceding company.
- Represented insurer/reinsurer in conjunction with its New York Superintendent-approved mass commutation plan (New York Regulation 141).
- Oversee voluntary run-off of pool of property/casualty insurers.
- Represented Bermuda and U.K. purchasers of New York insurer in run-off and advised regarding payment of dividends to company’s new owners.
- Represented professional reinsurer in successful New York Superintendent-approved commutation plan (New York Regulation 141) that avoided insolvency proceeding, and advised on subsequent sale of reinsurer.
- Advised reinsurer of failed New York insurer regarding liquidation claim procedures and offsets arising from insolvency.
- Advised long-term disability insurer writing in 50 states as to third-party administrator licensing.
- Represented liability insurer concerning inquiry/investigation by Department of Financial Services under New York Regulation 135 regarding policies issued to group that included certain non-affiliated companies.
- Represented purchaser of multi-line property/casualty insurer that provides property and casualty coverage for farm-related small businesses.
- Led lobbying effort against Michigan Public Act 61 (enacted in April 2010), which amends Michigan’s Holding Company Act with respect to the acquisition of control of certain Michigan-domiciled property/casualty insurers.
- Advised association of broadcasters with respect to certain health insurance-related captive insurance arrangements.
- Represented international independent loss adjusting firm as to investigations into licensing infractions for certain independent adjusters.
- Advised member of self-insured New York workers’ compensation trust as to the trust’s run-off and dissolution.