Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Law

Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith law

Houston Harbaugh’s insurance coverage practice encompasses first-party and third-party insurance coverage and bad faith claims.

From our offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we have represented insurance companies in federal and state insurance coverage and bad faith litigation involving a wide variety of matters arising under numerous types of policies, including commercial general liability policies, directors’ and officers’ liability policies, property and casualty policies, professional errors and omissions policies, special manuscripted policies, umbrella and excess policies, and life and disability insurance policies. The firm routinely provides insurance coverage opinions on all types of insurance.

Our attorneys have years of experience in defending insurance carriers against claims of bad faith and extra-contractual liability in both state and federal courts. Our understanding of the insurance industry has enabled us to successfully counsel our clients to avoid bad faith claims and, if necessary, take bad faith claims to trial if they cannot otherwise be resolved. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling issues that arise during discovery, motions practice, trial, and appeal of bad faith claims. In addition to litigation, our attorneys offer counseling to help maintain good faith claims handling practices in our clients’ operations.

Other areas of insurance coverage in which we have significant experience include:

Environmental and Complex Tort Coverage

Our Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith attorneys have wide-ranging experience in handling coverage disputes involving the release of hazardous substances into the ground and contamination of groundwater and navigable waters as well as mass toxic tort claims arising out of exposures to various toxic substances, and defective products. Our attorneys are well practiced in the interpretation of insurance policies, including primary, umbrella, and excess policies in this area. In particular, issues involving bodily injury, occurrence, exhaustion, trigger of coverage, notice, ultimate net loss, pollution exclusion, and earth movement exclusion have all been analyzed and litigated by the Houston Harbaugh attorneys.

Excess and Surplus Lines

Our attorneys work extensively in coverage related issues pertaining to the excess and surplus market. Excess policies provide limits above an underlying liability policy. The underlying liability policy is often an umbrella policy and the excess policy provides additional limits of insurance often following form to the umbrella policy.

Issues that often arise in the excess policy arena pertain to allocation, “ultimate net loss” exhaustion and underwriting processes.

Advertising Injury and Intellectual Property Loss

Advertising injury claims are some of the most litigated claims in the insurance coverage arena. Such claims can include libel, slander or commercial disparagement, trademark and trade dress infringement, copyright infringement, patent infringement, theft of trade secrets, and unfair competition. Issues that arise in this area can include whether the insured’s actions fall within the definition of “advertising injury,” the requirement of a causal connection to injuries, and the applicability of exclusions, including the “knowledge of falsity” exclusion.

Life, Health, and Disability Insurance

Our attorneys have extensive experience representing large, regional, and small insurance companies in litigating claims involving life, disability, long-term care, Medicare supplement, specified-disease and critical illness insurance policies, as well as annuities and retirement plans. Our attorneys have litigated a vast array of issues in relation to these products including, wrongful denial of benefits, rescission of policies, policy lapse issues, beneficiary disputes, and issues involving failure to provide proofs of loss, and are well-acquainted with statutes and regulations that govern these products. Our attorneys also frequently litigate claims for misrepresentation, fraud and violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law asserted against insurance companies and their agents in relation to the sale of life, health and disability policies, as well bad faith claims asserted against insurance companies involving these policies. Additionally, our attorneys have experience representing insurance companies in commission disputes with their brokers and agents with respect to the sale of life, health and disability policies.

  • Insurance coverage litigation and monitoring of accounting liability claims in excess of $100 million arising out of the financial failure of a nationwide discount pharmacy chain.
  • Representing an insurance carrier in an action initiated by a Fortune 500 company seeking in excess of $100 million insurance coverage for the costs of completing the environmental cleanup of 25 sites contaminated by hazardous wastes and substances.
  • Representing excess insurers in indemnity dispute arising from national class action settlement in excess of $100 million involving a national restaurant chain.
  • Representing a major regional commercial bank in a claim against a surety company under a banker’s blanket bond for insurance coverage of losses sustained by the bank in connection with a check forgery scheme.
  • Representing insurance companies in coverage litigation brought by manufacturers of tobacco products seeking coverage for third-party personal injury claims allegedly arising out of use of tobacco products.
  • Representing insurers against claims for coverage arising from mass tort asbestos and silica claims and alleged bad faith.
  • Representing insurers in dispute regarding coverage for claims arising out of defective products installed in homes.
  • Representing life insurance companies in litigation involving wrongful denial of life insurance benefits.
  • Representing long-term care insurance company in litigation involving denial of benefits and alleged bad faith.
  • Representing annuity company in litigation involving sale tactics.
  • Representing an insurance carrier in an action initiated by a Fortune 500 company seeking in excess of $100 million insurance coverage for the costs of completing the environmental cleanup of 25 sites contaminated by hazardous wastes and substances.
  • Representing an excess insurer in coverage and bad faith actions involving thousands of multiple underlying claims arising out of exposures to asbestos, silica and coal dust.
  • Representing an insurer against claim for coverage brought by persons exposed to asbestos who had not yet been diagnosed with disease. Reported decision Erdely v. Hinchcliffe and Keener, Inc., et al., 875 A.2d 1078 (Pa. Super. 2005), appeal denied, 890 A.2d 1059 (Pa. 2005).
  • Representing insurance company involving coverage issues raised by multiple actions arising out of contaminated pharmaceutical products.
  • Representing insurance companies in bankruptcy court involving coverage disputes arising out of asbestos liabilities and attempts to assign policy rights to a trust under plans of reorganization.
  • Representing insurance companies which issued environmental remediation bonds in forfeiture litigation initiated by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection.
  • Representing insurance company in coverage action brought by industrial insured seeking coverage for environmental liabilities under pre-pollution exclusion policies.
  • Defense of corporate managing general agent in litigation brought by insurer alleging negligence in insurance underwriting and claims management activities.
  • Representation of insurers against claims for coverage arising from mass toxic tort claims and alleged bad faith.
  • Representation of excess insurers in indemnity dispute arising from national class action settlement in excess of $100 million involving national restaurant chain.
  • Representation of an insurance company in a coverage action involving alleged property damage and advertising injury coverage for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Reported decision Melrose Hotel Co. v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Co. 432 F. Supp. 2d 488 (E.D. Pa. 2006), aff’d, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 22711 (3d Cir. Sept. 25, 2007).
  • Representation of an insurance company in a coverage action involving an underlying copyright infringement lawsuit and a determination of whether there was “advertising injury” under four commercial general liability policies issued to the corporation by the insurer.