Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Nevada’s Absolute Liability Statute Does Not Create A Third-Party Bad Faith Claim.

We have previously written about Saundra Torres.  She was hurt when she was involved in an auto accident with a vehicle that was insured by Nevada Direct Insurance Company.She filed suit against Nevada Direct’s insureds Perez-Castellano and Mollinedo-Cruz.  For a time, Nevada Direct defended.  But after the insureds failed to cooperate, Nevada Direct withdrew its defense and filed a declaratory relief action.  In the declaratory relief action, Torres refused Nevada Direct’s offer to settle … [Read more...]

Ambiguous State Farm UM Coverage Allows Wife To Recover For Separate Emotional Distress Caused By Witnessing Husband’s Death

Mrs. Brewington rode her motorcycle a little behind Mr. Brewington on State Highway 49 in California. An oncoming rider crossed the center line striking Mr. Brewington and ejecting him from his bike. Mrs. Brewington witnessed the collision, stopped and called for assistance. Mr. Brewington died on the way to the hospital with Mrs. Brewington by his side.The negligent rider had no liability insurance. However, the Brewingtons had UM coverage with their motorcycle carrier State Farm in the … [Read more...]

A Reasonable Defense Trumps Bad Faith Even With Multiple Policy Limit Demands And An Excess Verdict

Jesse Kalberer and Eileen Mediola were in a car accident. Ms. Mediola’s attorney sent a policy limit demand to Jesse’s auto carrier, American Family. American Family rejected the demand claiming that the injuries were pre-existing and that the medical bills were overstated.American Family warned Jesse of a possible excess verdict. Plaintiff even emailed American Family and asked the company to settle so as to not expose Jesse to an excess verdict.At the same time, Jesse’s defense … [Read more...]

Nevada Allows Policyholders To Sue Certain Managing General Agents and Third-Party Administrators For Bad Faith

An agent who acts for a disclosed principal is not liable for commitments made by the agent in the principal’s behalf.  See ALI’s Restatement (Second) of Agency § 320 (1958).  In the field of insurance, managing general agents, third-party administrators and independent adjusters have regularly shielded themselves from claims of bad faith brought by policyholders’ against the insurance company for which that agent works.  But that rule of hornbook law is beginning to erode following insurance … [Read more...]

Investigating Death During A Life Policy’s Contestability Period Is Not Bad Faith

The story goes that back in the 19th century, some life insurance companies were not fond of paying claims.  Apparently, after the insured died, life insurance companies would regularly investigate and if a misstatement was found in the application, would then deny the claims.  According to Steven Rothschild of the LIFE Foundation, the various states responded by passing incontestability statutes.  Absent outright fraud, or failure to pay premiums, these incontestability statutes limited the … [Read more...]