Insurance litigation involves the representation of insurers, policyholders, and other stakeholders in disputes concerning the meaning, scope, and effect of insurance policies and related contracts. The issues implicated in insurance litigation span a number of substantive legal areas. Although most cases involve the interpretation of an insurance policy or related contract, the subject matters involved in insurance litigation encompass an expansive array of claims and coverages, including but not limited to:
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Insurance coverage disputes can typically be divided into two broad categories: “third-party claims” and “first party claims.” A “third party claim” is a claim brought against an insured by a third party (someone not a party to the insurance policy) for injury or damages allegedly caused by the insured. Such disputes focus upon whether the underlying claim brought against the policyholder is covered or potentially covered by the applicable policy of insurance. In contrast, a “first-party claim” is a claim brought by an insured against the insurer for a loss sustained directly by the insured; for example, a fire loss claim.
- Advertising Injury and Personal Injury
- Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Liability
- Commercial General Liability (bodily injury and property damage)
- Construction Defect and Design Claims
- Director & Officer Liability
- Errors & Omissions Liability
- Environmental Claims (asbestos, lead, mold, and other toxic tort claims)
- First-Party Claims (property damage, property loss, and business interruption claims)
- Guaranty Fund Issues
- Life, Health & Disability Claims
- Insurer Liquidation
- Intellectual Property & Cyber-Security
- Personal Lines (homeowners and personal automobile)
- Professional Liability
When coverage disputes arise, the parties will often resolve the dispute by pursuit of formal coverage litigation instituted by either the insurer or the insured in a court of law, most typically by the filing of a specialized claim called a Declaratory Judgment action. Such a proceeding seeks to have the court determine the disputed policy coverages and the rights of the parties arising under the policy. Coverage disputes also can be resolved through arbitration proceedings, mediation, or some other procedure agreed upon by the parties to the coverage dispute.
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