Practice Areas

Insurance

Expertise in Insurance Law

Insurance Law requires thorough knowledge of the business of insurance, as well as mastery of constantly changing laws and regulations within the industry. Burnham Brown's Insurance Law Practice Group offers comprehensive experience with proven success in insurance law and insurance litigation. Our clients rely upon us for an accurate analysis of coverage issues, and successful resolution of insurance coverage disputes. We aggressively represent our clients in insurance litigation, advise insurers on underwriting matters and policy language, and protect insurer's interests in underlying litigation.

Areas of Expertise

Advice and Counsel and Analysis of Coverage Issues

  • Standard form and manuscript property and casualty policies: general liability, professional liability, directors and officers liability, fidelity and surety, bond, excess, surplus lines and reinsurance, commercial property, business and commercial auto, common carrier, life, and personal lines
  • Evaluate policyholder liability and advocate our insurer client's position in settlement negotiations in underlying litigation
  • Assist the insurer and the insured in pursuit of additional insured rights under other carriers' policies
  • Assist the insurer and the insured in pursuit of express indemnity rights under contractual indemnity claims
  • Monitor underlying litigation on behalf of excess insurers
  • Fee audits and arbitration for apportionment of covered and
    non-covered components of damages and claims expenses

Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation

  • Defense of bad faith suits seeking contractual and extra-contractual damages
  • Represent insurers in complex, multi-party insurance litigation, including claims involving environmental contamination, product liability, mass tort, and construction defects
  • Prosecution of declaratory relief actions to establish that insurer has no duty to defend or to indemnify
  • Pursue contribution actions against co-insurers which have abdicated their responsibility to contribute to defense and/or indemnity
  • Pursue additional insured rights under other carriers' policies for contribution
  • Pursue on behalf of the carrier its insured's express indemnity rights under contractual indemnity provisions
  • Represent insurers through appellate process

Property Insurance

  • Represent national and regional property insurers on all issues of policy interpretation and in defense of bad faith suits involving manuscript and standard form ISO contracts, including multi-insurer, multi-layer insurance programs
  • Claim investigation strategies for large catastrophe losses: earthquake, flood, firestorm, theft, arson, business interruption, fraud, contamination, builder's risk, and fidelity
  • Examinations under oath, investigation of suspicious claims, and coordination with insurers' Special Investigation Units

Subrogation

  • Pursue subrogation claims against tortfeasors for maximum recovery on behalf of insurers
  • Pursue by way of subrogation the insured's express indemnity rights for contractual indemnity
  • Coordinate with Burnham Brown's other practice groups to counsel property and casualty insurers on recognizing, evaluating and prosecuting subrogation rights associated with insurance claims

Reinsurance and Insolvency

  • Reinsurance arbitration
  • Draft reinsurance treaties and certificates

Drafting of Insurance Policies and Endorsements

  • Draft policies and endorsements, and revise policy language to achieve the insurer's intended assumption of risk or implement change in underwriting guidelines

Insurance Regulation/Department of Insurance

  • Counsel insurers on California Insurance Regulations
  • Respond to Department of Insurance inquiries to insurers regarding regulatory compliance and consumer complaints
  • Represent insurers before State Insurance Commissioners

Representative Outcomes in Insurance Law

Burnham Brown's Insurance attorneys are adept at counseling insurers and representing insurers in litigation. We routinely appear in state and federal trial and appellate courts, and we have vast experience in issues of coverage and claims handling under a wide variety of standard and manuscript form policies. We provide insurers with advice and counsel on difficult coverage questions that require immediate attention for optimal case management.

Litigation

  • Established there was no coverage for the manufacturer of silicone breast implants for bodily injuries arising from the pre-acquisition torts of a corporate subsidiary acquired after expiration of the policy.  Cooper Cos v. Transcontinental Ins. Co., 31 Cal.App.4th 1094 (1995)
  • Prevailed in establishing no coverage under property policies for continuous and progressive environmental contamination which manifested after the property policies expired.  Stanton Road Associates v. Pacific Employers Ins. Co., et al., 36 Cal.App.4th 333 (1995)
  • Successfully defended insurer's denial of coverage for suits arising out of insured's alleged bribery of high officials in the Defense Department under "advertising injury" coverage of general liability policy.  Cubic Corporation v. Insurance Company of North America, et al., 33 F.3d 34 (9th Cir: 1994)
  • Represented professional liability insurer in appeal establishing precedent that the giving of erroneous estate tax advice was the act triggering coverage, although the claimant was not damaged until the first spouse died.  Travelers Ins. Co. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, 207 Cal.App.3d 1390 (1989)
  • Successfully represented insurer in trial court and on appeal, that insurance company had no duty to defend claim that insured violated Americans With Disabilities Act claim  by failing to make bathrooms at service station accessible to those with disabilities.  Modern Development Co. v. Navigators Ins. Co., 111 Cal.App.4th 932 (2003)
  • Successfully represented subcontractor's insurer at trial and on appeal, establishing that subcontractor and insurer had no liability for extensive mold claims at high school because insured had abandoned the project before the policy expired.  North American Specialty Ins. Co. v. AMCO Ins. Co. 2007 WL 3173712 (2007)
  • Successfully represented insurer at trial and on appeal, obtaining judgment that insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify claims of sex discrimination in employment practices and procedures at supermarkets despite fact that damages were in part calculated on disparate treatment occurring during the policy period.  Albertson's, Inc. v. Home Insurance Co., (1998) Cal. Lexis (1998)
  • Successfully represented insurer at trial and on appeal against suit for breach of contract and bad faith for failing to defend claim for trespass and property damage in easement dispute.  Van Der Hoek v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 2006 Cal.App. Unpub. Lexis 10490 (2006)
  • After losing motion for summary judgment, prevailed at trial establishing that business owner involved in accident while commuting to work had no coverage under the non-owned auto coverage of a business automobile liability policy, against the contention that the business owner needed to have a vehicle handy at work for business errands, and representing insurer on appeal to Ninth Circuit.  Lincoln General Ins. Co. v. Gateway Securities Services, Inc., E.D.Cal 06-CV-01143 (2009)
  • Established by summary judgment that an insurer's reservation of rights did not entitle the insured to independent counsel under Civil Code §2860 because the insurer's omission of specific exclusions from the reservation and the alleged ambiguity of the reservation did not create the requisite conflict under the statute.  Citi Apartments, Inc. v. Markel Ins. Co., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44469 (N.D. Cal. 2007)
  • Obtained and preserved on appeal a judgment that an insurer had no duty under a general liability policy to defend or indemnify an insured against a Visual Artists Rights Act claim involving the covering of a mural with white sealant because the allegations did not constitute libel or any other "personal injury" or "advertising injury" offense.  Cort v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Cos., Inc., 311 F. 3d 979 (9th Cir. 2002)
  • Obtained and preserved on appeal a judgment that an insurer had no duty under a professional liability policy to defend or indemnify an insured against a False Claims Act claim concerning the submission of false Medicare and Medicaid claims because the act of billing Medicare and Medicaid did not constitute a professional service.  Horizon West v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 45 Fed. Appx. 752 (9th Cir. 2002)
  • Successfully obtained judgment after federal court bench trial that insurer had no duty to indemnify any part of arbitration award against insured general contractor because plaintiff did not prove the covered portion of an undifferentiated arbitration award in a construction defects action.  Martinez v. Lincoln General Insurance Co., C.D.Cal.CV077569-R (August 27, 2009)
  • Following intervention, successfully vacated $1.88M judgment against client's/insurer's insured on grounds that client had properly denied duty to defend suit involving assault and battery and negligence allegations after adequate investigation. Suit proceeded to trial and judgment on theory that plaintiff had been injured in slip and fall accident, but no facts supporting such an accident had been provided to the client. Johnson v. Medrano's Restaurant, 2007 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 6276 (2007)

To speak with a Burnham Brown attorney specializing in Insurance Law, please call 510-444-6800 and ask to speak with a member of the Insurance Law Practice Group.

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