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ALASKA SUPREME COURT FINDS MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT CLAIMANT WAS NOT “OCCUPYING” INSURED’S VEHICLE TO SEEK UIM COVERAGE UNDER INSURED’S POLICY

Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2018 Many automobile insurance policies provide underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage to the named insured, as well as others that are “occupying” an insured automobile during an accident . The interpretation of what circumstances constitute occupancy of an insured automobile by a person that is not other wise an insured under the policy...

WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT FINDS THAT EXCLUSIVE MEANS OF SERVICE FOR AUTHORIZED FOREIGN INSURER IS THROUGH WASHINGTON STATE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER

Quarterly Newsletter Spring 2018 Similar to the vast majority of other states, service of legal process is governed by statute in Washington. RCW 48.05.200(1) states that an “authorized foreign or alien insurer must appoint the commissioner as its attorney to receive service of, and upon whom must be served, all legal process issued against it...

OREGON FEDERAL COURT FINDS NO BREACH OF DUTY OF GOOD FAITH DESPITE INSURER’S BREACH OF CONTRACT

Quarterly Newsletter Spring 2018 In a recent decision, an Oregon Court rejected an insurer’s position that the terms “surface water” and “flood water” referred to natural water sources as well as man-made sources, thereby finding that the insurers breached the contract by denying coverage. However, the Court reinforced the general rule in Oregon that, despite...

WASHINGTON COURT FINDS NO BAD FAITH DESPITE INCORRECT ASSESSMENT BY INSURER ON COVERAGE ISSUES

Quarterly Newsletter Winter 2017 Insurers and policyholders are often faced with a situation of whether depreciation may be recovered when the insured sustains a covered loss but does not use “new construction materials” to rebuild their house. In a recent opinion, a Washington Court rejected an insurer’s position that the term “new,” in the replacement...

WASHINGTON COURT LIMITS DISCOVERY OF INSURER’S CLAIMS-HANDLING MANUALS AND GUIDELINES FOR UNRELATED LINES OF COVERAGE

Quarterly Newsletter Winter 2017 Insurers faced with a bad faith lawsuit are often asked in discovery to produce copies of claim handling manuals and guidelines.  Oftentimes such discovery requests are broad and request any manuals or guidelines used by the insurer regardless of whether it specifically applies to the policy at issue.  Courts in various...

WASHINGTON COURT OF APPEALS REFUSES TO ALLOW PRODUCTION OF POST-LITIGATION COMMUNICATION BETWEEN INSURER AND COVERAGE COUNSEL IN DEFENSE OF UIM CLAIM

Quarterly Newsletter Fall 2017 Ever since the Washington Supreme Court rendered its decision in Cedell v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Washington, 176 Wn.2d 686, 295 P.3d 239 (2013), state and federal courts in Washington have grappled with the fallout. One of key questions is when, and to what extent, policyholders are entitled to discovery of...

WASHINGTON APPELLATE COURT FINDS INSURER NOT COLLATERALLY ESTOPPED FROM CONTESTING LIABILITY ISSUES IN DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION

Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2017 In Washington, insurers can be subject to collateral estoppel, which bars litigation of the same issue in a subsequent declaratory judgment action, when that issue was actually litigated in the underlying proceeding. The circumstances that allow collateral estoppel to apply vary on a case-by-case basis, but generally turn on whether the...

OREGON COURT OF APPEALS RENDERS IMPORTANT DECISION ON VARIOUS COVERAGE ISSUES ARISING OUT OF CONSTRUCTION DEFECT LAWSUIT

Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2017 In an effort to stem the flood of claims for coverage arising out of construction defect lawsuits, insurers have included various exclusions and endorsements to limit coverage for such claims in their commercial general liability policies issued to construction contractors and subcontractors. One such exclusion, titled the “Multi-Unit New Residential Construction”...

ALASKA SUPREME COURT FINDS DUTY OWED BY LIABILITY INSURER TO THIRD-PARTY CLAIMANT

Quarterly Newsletter Spring 2017 Over the years, policyholders and their attorneys have sought to assert tort claims directly against liability insurers for alleged mishandling of liability claims. While the general rule in many jurisdictions is that third party claimants have no independent cause of action against the policyholder’s liability insurer absent an assignment of rights...

WASHINGTON FEDERAL COURT FINDS NO “OCCURRENCE” UNDER HOMEOWNERS’ POLICY BASED ON INSURED’S VIOLATION OF CONDOMINIUM BYLAWS

Quarterly Newsletter Fall 2016 Two of the most commonly disputed issues regarding coverage under the insuring clause of a homeowner’s liability policy are whether “property damage” took place, and whether such damage was caused by an “occurrence.” In a recent case in Washington, the Court adopted a broad interpretation of “property damage” under a homeowner’s...