The (Rock) Finer Points of the Absolute Pollution Exclusion

The pollution exclusion has had a long history of being interpreted by the courts throughout the US.  Many substances have been held to come within the pollution exclusion, resulting in a bar of insurance coverage for costs sustained by policyholders addressing those substances in waterways and the air.  In a recent case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals interpreted the pollution exclusion in the context of quarry operations and the unintentional release of “rock fines” into a waterway.

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Violation of Statute Exclusion Bars Coverage Under Umbrella Policy

Many general liability polices contain an exclusion for violations of certain statutes involving the sending or communicating of information like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).  The question a federal court in North Dakota faced was whether debt collection practices came within the statutory violation exclusion.

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Pre-Answer Security In New York Is No Joke

Woman holding a shield

New York, among several other states, protects its citizen policyholders in disputes with unauthorized foreign or alien insurance companies by requiring the insurance company to deposit security or obtain a licence to do an insurance business in the state before it can file any pleadings in an proceedings brought against it in New York.  This is to make sure that any judgment can be enforced without the New York policyholder chasing around the world to execute.  While there are limited exceptions, the general rule is before the defendant insurance company can appear and respond to a lawsuit, it has to post security.  When the insurance company fails to comply, its efforts to respond to the case will be limited.

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Absolute Enforcement of Express Navigational Limits in Marine Insurance Policies

Here is a New Year’s resolution for the readers of this blog who own a yacht:  beware of the navigational limit of your marine insurance policy!  The yacht owner in Geico Marine Ins. Co. v. Shackleford, 28 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 655 (U.S. 11th Cir. 2019), learned that lesson at a high price.

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The Top 10 InReDisputesBlog Posts for 2019

Top 10

Below are the top 10 blog posts from our Insurance & Reinsurance Disputes Blog for 2019.  These are the ones our readers viewed the most last year on our blog. The compilation is diverse as is the topic of insurance and reinsurance disputes.  Please enjoy this stroll down memory lane.  If you like these and are not registered on the blog, just go to the blog home page and sign up.

Interestingly, readers of these posts on Lexology picked some different ones as part of the Top 10 for 2019, but that’s ok.  I hope you enjoyed them all.

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It’s Always a Good Idea to Read Your Insurance Policy

Among the basic rules of insurance are these two:  (a) always read your policy and (b) courts will construe clear and unambiguous insurance policy language by giving it its ordinary and plain meaning. This is the lesson that a policyholder learned after filing a claim for windstorm damage to his roof.  The question was whether the policy provided actual cash value or replacement cost damages.

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Unambiguous Repair Clause Bars Coverage for Yacht Fire

Happy New Year to all readers of the Insurance and Reinsurance Disputes Blog. In this first post of the new decade, we find the Ninth Circuit affirming a grant of summary judgment in favor of a marine insurer after a fire destroyed a yacht. Unambiguous policy provisions prevailed.

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No Coverage to Builder for Beetle-Infested Logs

Nearly all construction jobs require that the contractor purchase insurance.  Commercial general liability insurance (“CGL”) is often what is purchased.  CGL policies also typically have an exclusion for property damage to “your work.” In a recent case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals addressed this exclusion in a case of damage caused by beetle-infested logs used to build a log home.  What would Abe Lincoln say?

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Policyholder’s Attempt to Third-Party Reinsurers Denied


When a policyholder faces litigation from its insurance company over a claim submitted by the policyholder, the policyholder often will defend by alleging that the insurance company has breached the insurance contract and has wrongfully failed to pay the claim.  Sometimes, however, a policyholder will try to blame the insurance company’s refusal to pay a claim on others.  In a recent case, a policyholder sought to bring a third-party complaint against several reinsurers, blaming them for the insurance company’s actions.

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Policyholder Denied Discovery Into Handling of Other Insureds’ Superstorm Sandy Losses

Superstorm Sandy was a complicated loss because of its unique nature and the controversy over when it was a hurricane and whether damage caused by it was while it was a hurricane.  Many property policies have sublimits and deductibles specific to hurricanes or “named storms” or for flood losses.  How these sublimits or deductibles apply to Superstorm Sandy depends on the specific language of each policy and has been the subject of numerous coverage actions.  One of those actions reached a New York intermediate appellate court, which affirmed the denial of discovery into the insurance carriers’ handling  of Superstorm Sandy losses for other insureds.

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