Insurance is everywhere; it is intertwined with every facet of our working and personal lives. Yet, all too often when a loss occurs or a liability is sustained, we fail to obtain the full protection that insurance promises to provide. Many times this failure is simply the result of not looking in the right place or not looking at all.
In an extreme example, coverage was found under a client’s umbrella homeowner’s policy for the costs of defending a lawsuit involving a will contest. In that case, our client was sued by his brother who claimed that he was wrongly cut out of their mother’s will. After being told he had no insurance for the substantial costs incurred in defending the will contest lawsuit, our client contacted us for a second opinion. As it turned out, our client’s umbrella homeowner’s policy provided coverage for “personal injury,” defined to include certain intentional torts, including “misrepresentation.” The will contest complaint alleged, in part, that our client had failed to disclose that their mother had cut his brother out of her will. That single allegation was enough to cause the court to conclude that there was the potential for coverage and, thus, a duty on the part of the insurer to reimburse the costs incurred in defending the will contest lawsuit.
Had our client simply accepted the initial opinion of no coverage, he would have forfeited over a half million dollar recovery. By seeking a second opinion and allowing us to look for coverage under the umbrella policy, a potentially crippling loss was averted.
It would be easy to dismiss this insurance success story as novel; it is not. Everyday, individuals and businesses confront similar claims. All too frequently these claims go uninsured, not because of the lack of insurance coverage, but because insureds fail to look in all the right places for that coverage.