PUBLISHED ON: February 10, 2022
Policyholders should never take coverage denials at face value. But while it may ultimately be necessary to litigate an insurance company’s unjust denial, lowballed coverage or damaging delay, litigation should be a last resort. Developing a comprehensive strategy for handling a claim as soon as it arises, and persisting through delays and roadblocks, can often get a contested claim resolved satisfactorily without going to court. The following are several tips for doing just that.
- Provide notice early.
When uncertain whether a liability threat will pan out, or whether a given insurance policy will cover it if it does, policyholders may be reluctant to give notice for fear of premiums going up or adverse consequences when renewal comes due. But most policies require the policyholder to give notice of a claim within a fixed period—sometimes as short as a week—and failing to provide timely notice can complicate and in some cases even negate coverage. Though most states require insurance companies to demonstrate prejudice if they seek to deny coverage on timely notice grounds, it is prudent not to trigger this often-invoked coverage defense. Fears of the insurance company’s reaction to a potential claim should not supersede a policyholder’s efforts to recover under a policy. Give notice early, broadly and often.
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Robert M. Horkovich is managing partner in Anderson Kill’s New York office and chair of the firm’s insurance recovery group. He is a trial lawyer who has obtained more than $5 billion in settlements and judgments for policyholders from insurance companies.
John M. Leonard, a shareholder in Anderson Kill's New York office, has represented policyholders in a full spectrum of insurance coverage matters, including disputes over business interruption losses, D&O and E&O defense and indemnity, general liability losses, and environmental liability.