Being unable to locate physical copies of policies from decades ago can be daunting, but legal experts say the best approach can be as elementary as starting within the policyholder's own records.
A lost or missing policy can make or break a high-stakes coverage dispute because the policyholder has the burden of establishing the existence of the insurance contracts.
However, carriers have argued in some cases that exclusions were included in older policies that relieved them of coverage. When arguing that an exclusion was in a policy to bar coverage, Robert Horkovich of Anderson Kill PC told Law360 that the burden of proof shifts to the insurer since it is conceding that coverage existed.
Beginning the Search
Looking for a lost policy is not as difficult as finding a needle in the haystack, as experts say there are a number of viable options for the search and the first place to come to a policyholder's mind is sometimes the most logical.
Horkovich said that missing policies are worth more than their weight in gold and that oftentimes the best place for policyholders to start the search is within their own walls.
In some cases, he said, a missing or lost insuring agreement can be hidden among documents nestled away in a policyholder's archives.
Horkovich, who represents policyholders, said claims managers and old employees who had access to insurance information are invaluable sources.
"If you can convince your own employees and managers to dedicate the resources to go do it, that is generally the best source," Horkovich said.
Other sources of information within the company that could lead to the discovery of a lost or missing policy, he said, are accountants or general counsel.
In addition, former insurance brokers can also provide important information about policies that are lost or missing, Horkovich said.
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