First Party Coverage—Property, Builders Risk, Difference in Conditions
You buy insurance as a tool to manage risk. A casualty loss, be it from a broken pipe, defective construction, earthquake or a breach of cyber security, exposes your business to immediate negative financial consequences. How to use that tool to recover the costs of repairs, code upgrade expenses and lost income, takes skill, experience and knowledge of how insurers are applying exclusions in similar claims nationwide. We have those skills. Insurers bank on companies managing their own claims, knowing their insureds lack the resources and knowledge to avoid the exclusions. The illusion of trust created by advertising results in the insured impairing or defeating their claim because they unwittingly identify an excluded cause of loss or assume the insurance covers the entire loss. We assist in managing and presenting these claims. Expensive, endless litigation can more often than not be avoided, if our assistance starts early in the claim to help your company navigate the minefield of claims adjustment.
Third Party Coverage—Commercial Liability, Professional Errors and Omissions, Development and General Partner Liability
Being sued is part of operating a business. Even if you did nothing wrong, the cost of defending a lawsuit, probably for years, can ruin a company’s finances. Liability insurance is supposed to pay the costs of defense and settlement or judgment. Commercial liability policies, irrespective of whether they cover bodily injury, property damage, errors or omissions, are not as favorable as they were even five years ago. The insurers added conditions and exclusions with the goal of escaping the full cost of defense and avoiding or limiting any payment to the claimant. Insurance coverage law falls in litigation and trial practice; not business or real estate. Only a small minority of litigators practice insurance coverage and of that minority, far less than half represent insureds. Few insureds realize the litigation attorney appointed to defend knows nothing about insurance and is precluded by the insurer from assisting you with coverage. We are experts in liability coverage of all types, including “claims made” and project specific policies like OCIPs or CCIPs, popularly known as “wraps.” We know insurers with out of state claims operations are unfamiliar with Washington, California and Oregon law favorable to insureds. Our assistance starts with deciphering, explaining and contesting the fine print in insures’ letters. We continue during the course of the litigation, building the case for coverage and advancing these arguments at mediation.
Litigation with the insurer is sometimes necessary. In Washington, insurers commonly sue to ask a court to uphold their denial of coverage. These lawsuits, called Declaratory Judgment actions, are our specialty. We also sue insurers for wrongful denials, including extra-contractual damages beyond the amount of the claim. We are licensed in state and federal courts and have extensive experience in presenting the issues to the court through motions, using them as an avenue to avoid the expense of trial.
Risk Management through Drafting
The fundamental tool of risk management is contractual language transferring risk among parties to the contract. We assist insureds and their attorneys in drafting insurance and indemnity provisions. Construction contracts, subcontracts, leases, wrap programs, real estate sale----all have insurance and indemnity provisions. We know how these provisions should be drafted to protect you and how they should be integrated with insurance coverage. For example, additional insured status used to be easy and inexpensive to obtain. No longer. Insurers have narrowed the coverage and included hurdles for qualification as an Additional Insured. We can help you avoid breaching a contract by promising Additional Insured status that is not available. Our services include reviewing contracts and insurance policies to identify issues that can be solved before they create problems.
Counseling attorneys on optimizing insurance recoveries
We are frequently retained by attorneys who are prosecuting lawsuits to assist in optimizing recoveries from defendants’ insurance companies. Similarly, we assist defense counsel in pressuring insurers to defend and settle lawsuits.