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Insurance and Reinsurance

SRBC has been serving insurance companies and reinsurers for more than 75 years. Best Lawyers and U.S. News have consistently ranked SRBC as among the very top firms in Boston and Massachusetts for insurance law (more).

Our breadth of experience, expertise in insurance law, and skills in litigation and negotiation have enabled us to develop close, long-term relationships with numerous local and national carriers. We have advised clients on matters ranging from coverage, claims handling, insurance practices and regulatory compliance to employment and contract disputes, and we have represented them in litigation, arbitration and other dispute resolution proceedings with their insureds, with claimants, or with other insurers. Our experience in related areas of litigation, including commercial, employment, professional liability, environmental and tort cases, often gives us special insight and perspective in matters on which we provide insurance advice.

Insurance Coverage Advice and Litigation

Our attorneys regularly advise carriers on coverage obligations and represent insurers in litigation or appeal of coverage disputes. Our experience encompasses various types of policies and insurance lines, including:

  • Commercial general liability
  • Professional liability
  • Directors and officers liability
  • Excess and umbrella coverage
  • Errors and omissions coverage
  • Environmental coverage
  • Employment practices liability
  • Homeowners and personal lines, and
  • Title insurance.

In addition to providing coverage advice and representing carriers in coverage litigation, we frequently act as monitoring counsel in complex cases and assist in negotiating creative resolutions of high-exposure claims. We also represent carriers in “bad faith” and extra-contractual litigation arising out of claims-handling and settlement decisions.

We are proud of the confidence our clients place in us. We are the regional coverage counsel for the eastern half of the United States for a major insurer of attorneys, and New England regional coverage counsel for a national carrier for professional liability and CGL matters. And we have been primary coverage counsel for over twenty years for the largest homeowners carrier in Massachusetts.

Our recent insurance cases have involved issues as disparate as:

  • Scope of coverage under Additional Insured Endorsements in Commercial General Liability Policies in connection with construction claims, product liability claims, and premises liability suits
  • Actions for rescission based upon misrepresentations in policy applications
  • Exclusions for claims arising from pollution, intentional torts, fraudulent acts, or professional services
  • The scope and limitations of coverage for “advertising injury”
  • Prior-knowledge defenses under claims-made policies and “known loss” issues under occurrence policies
  • “Trigger” of coverage
  • Interpretation of “other insurance” clauses
  • Coordination and allocation of indemnity and defense payments between carriers and “stacking”
  • Application of “award property” and “alienated property” provisions
  • Limits of liability and number of occurrences
  • Late-notice, failure-to-cooperate, and consent-to-settle clauses
  • Waiver and estoppel
  • The right to reimbursement of defense costs.

Clients have often called on us for appellate cases addressing important insurance-law issues of first impression. We are also regularly sought out for a broad range of additional services, including:

  • Reviewing, revising and drafting insurance policies and endorsements
  • Risk analysis pertaining to the introduction of new insurance product lines
  • Assessment of statutory and regulatory requirements that affect our insurance clients and assistance in implementing compliance procedures
  • Analysis of the legal ramifications and risk control of various claims-handling and underwriting practices, and
  • Presenting in-house seminars and general advice concerning cutting-edge issues of coverage, claims-handling and excess liability.

While the bulk of our insurance work is for carriers, we also regularly advise small and large businesses and professional associations on their insurance needs and coverages. Our attorneys have also served as personal counsel in a variety of disputes.

Reinsurance

The other major component of our insurance law practice involves advising and representing both cedents and reinsurers in arbitration and litigation concerning the full array of underlying losses and conventional and cutting-edge issues confronting the reinsurance industry. We have handled reinsurance disputes arising out of catastrophic property and business-interruption losses, asbestos product and non-product and other mass tort liabilities, and environmental damage claims. Issues we have dealt with include:

  • The nature and scope of the duties of “utmost good faith” and “follow the fortunes”
  • The number of occurrences
  • Aggregation and allocation problems
  • Computation of premiums and commissions, the exercise of set-offs, and other accounting issues
  • The operation and effect of notice provisions
  • The enforcement and construction of arbitration clauses
  • The arbitrability of substantive and procedural disputes, including statutory claims, consolidation, and the appointment of umpires and party-appointed arbitrators
  • Privilege and relevance standards in the context of claim audits and arbitration discovery
  • The scope and enforcement of arbitral subpoena powers and the scope of arbitrators’ powers to impose sanctions
  • Confirmation and vacatur of arbitral awards
  • The confidentiality of arbitral proceedings, and its operation in post-arbitral judicial confirmation or vacatur proceedings
  • The preclusive effect of arbitral awards and judicial rulings in arbitration-related cases, and
  • Special issues arising in insurance insolvencies, such as jurisdictional abstention, reverse pre-emption of the FAA, arbitrability, and fixed rights and obligations.

Arbitration services

Several of the attorneys in our insurance and reinsurance group frequently serve as private arbitrators in insurance coverage matters and as arbitrator or umpire in reinsurance disputes. Our group includes members of AIDA Reinsurance and Insurance Arbitration Society (ARIAS·U.S.), as well as members of other organizations that provide skilled mediators and arbitrators to parties in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Recent Reported Decisions:

Some of the cases we have handled recently that have resulted in published decisions are:

Rogers v. Rogers & Partners, Architects, Inc., CIV. A. 08-11730-NG, 2009 WL 5124652 (D. Mass. July 27, 2009)

Hingham Mutual Fire Ins. Co. v. Mercurio, 71 Mass. App. Ct. 21 (2008)

Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd., (D. Mass. 2007) (reprinted in 17-22 Mealey's Litigation Report: Reinsurance 4 (2007))

National Casualty Company v. First State Ins. Group, 430 F.3d 492 (1st Cir. 2005)

Safety v. Day, et al., 65 Mass. App. Ct. 15 (2005)

Sevigny v. Employers Insurance of Wausau, 411 F.3d 24 (1st Cir. 2005)

Clarendon Nat’l Ins. Co. v. Arbella Mut. Ins. Co., 60 Mass. App. Ct. 492 (2004)

Employers Insurance of Wausau v. First State Insurance Group, 324 F.Supp. 333 (D. Mass. 2004)

Chicago Ins. Co. v. Lappin, 58 Mass. App. Ct. 769 (2003)

OneBeacon America Ins. Co. v. Factory Mutual Ins. Co., No. 03-MDB-10239-GAO (D. Mass. 2003) (decision published in Mealey’s Litigation Report: Reinsurance, available at www.lexis.com/research, or by request from SRBC)

International Ins. Co. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, 50 Mass. App. Ct. 1101 (2000)

Medical Malpractice Joint Underwriting Ass’n of Massachusetts v. Goldberg, 425 Mass. 46 (1997)

Canal Ins. Co. v. Carolina Cas. Ins. Co., 59 F.3d 281 (1st Cir. 1995)

U.S. Aviation Underwriters, Inc. v. Fitchburg –Leominster, Flying Club, Inc., 42 F.3d 84 (1st Cir. 1994)

Frohberg v. Merrimack Mutual Fire Ins. Co., 34 Mass. App. Ct. 462 (1993)

Merrimack Mutual Fire Ins. Co. v. Nonaka, 414 Mass. 187 (1993)

Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. McLaughlin, 412 Mass. 492 (1992)

Worcester Ins. Co. v. Fells Acres Day School, Inc., 408 Mass. 393 (1990)

For more information regarding our insurance and reinsurance expertise, and how we can help you achieve your goals, please contact Regina E. Roman (Co-Chair), at roman@srbc.com or Susan A. Hartnett (Co-Chair), at hartnett@srbc.com or (617) 227-3030.

Related Publications:

August 22, 2013 -
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Recommends Stay Of Underlying Action To Resolve Coverage Disputes
SRBC partner Samuel M. Furgang authored the following article, originally published in the Boston Bar Association's Financial Services Section Newsletter.

...
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December 19, 2011 -
Arbitration Wars in Insurance Insolvency
SRBC's Natasha Lisman writes on the enforceability of arbitration agreements after an insurer's insolvency in the ARIAS-US Quarterly, a journal devoted to subjects relating to arbitration of insurance and reinsurance disputes.

...
Learn more

June 23, 2009 -
Do Legal Malpractice Claims Against IP Lawyers Belong in Federal Court?
In an article in Andrews's Professional Liability Litigation Reporter, SRBC's William Boesch writes about three recent federal appellate decisions addressing whether legal malpractice claims against intellectual property lawyers necessarily implicate matters of federal IP law, and therefore may be brought ...
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May 15, 2009 -
First Circuit: Arbitrator May Revisit and Clarify Award
Arbitration rules typically prevent an arbitrator who has decided a dispute by issuing an award from later reconsidering the merits and revising the decision. The arbitrator usually may only make clerical corrections. But as SRBC's Paul White writes in a recent article in the Massachusetts Reinsurance Bar ...
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Related News:

March 21, 2014 -
SRBC Insurer-Client Wins Coverage Dispute, Avoiding Reach of New York Notice Statute

SRBC partners Regina Roman and John O’Neill recently secured a summary judgment win for an insurer-client in a dispute over the insured's failure to timely report an international arbitration claim seeking 18 million euros for breach of a wind-turbine technology-licensing agreement.

...
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November 04, 2013 -
SRBC Ranked "First Tier" in Boston in 10 Practice Areas
The 2014 edition of the "Best Law Firms" rankings by U.S. News and Best Lawyers rates SRBC a "First Tier" firm in Boston in ten of its practice areas:

   
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