Guest Blogger: Emily Breslin Markos, Weisbrod Matteis & Copley PLLC
On Thursday, April 28th, I had the pleasure of attending Philly I-Day, an annual event where insurance professionals gather to network, share ideas and get informed about industry trends. The attendees had the opportunity to hear from Tom Finan, who previously served as the Senior Cybersecurity Strategist and Counsel with the Department of Homeland Security. While in this role, he established and led the agency’s Cyber Incident Data and Analysis Working Group (CIDAWG), which I previously blogged about. I appreciated hearing him speak about the important work that the CIDAWG has done to secure businesses against cyber-attacks. Mr. Finan shared that the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) recently held a workshop to focus on the execution of the repository for reporting cyber incidents, as described in my previous blog post.
I was surprised to learn that Mr. Finan invented the acronym CIDAWG for the working group, and intentionally made it, well, awesome. He boasted that it is the best acronym in the federal government to date, and I tend to agree, at least until we all start calling the President “P-Dawg.” To learn more about the CIDAWG’s continuing cyber-security efforts, please visit: www.dhs.gov/cybersecurity-insurance.
While at the event, I also had the opportunity to attend a Presentation given by our own Lee Epstein, with Kevin M. McPoyle of KMRD Partners, on effective communications between brokers and policyholders. In our work representing policyholders, we have seen our clients rely on brokers as an incredible source of expertise, guidance, and comfort when it comes to our client’s coverage needs. Unfortunately, we have also had the firsthand experience of having communications between the policyholder and broker unearthed in coverage litigation, and sometimes used against the policyholder.
For example, when a broker gives the unequivocal opinion that a certain claim is not covered, that can come back to haunt the policyholder. The insurer may rely on that statement as evidence of no coverage, and a court may find the broker’s statement compelling. In light of that, Lee and Kevin discussed how can brokers strike a balance between providing helpful and definitive advice to their clients, while aware that their statements can carry a great deal of weight if the claim is ever litigated.
Two main themes emerged from the discussion. First, the broker’s role is to offer business advice, not legal advice, and couching communications in business terms can avoid many problems if the claim ever goes to litigation. Second, when there is a question as to the scope of coverage, setting forth advice in terms of what the insurer’s position may be provides sound advice to the policyholder, but also protects the policyholder in the event of litigation. It was an eye-opening Presentation, and fodder for continuing discussion.
To learn more, contact Emily Breslin Markos