Insurance Coverage Dispute Resolution
Our priority is to find solutions to the problems that are important to our clients. We understand that timely resolution is often a primary objective. No matter the nature of the underlying disagreement, business disputes routinely have an insurance-related component. Indeed, business disputes often become insurance disputes.
Insurance coverage issues can arise from business conflicts in a number of ways.
- A client may be involved in a dispute — as a defendant or plaintiff — in which there is the possibility that third-party insurance can be tapped to cover the costs of litigation, damages, and recoveries.
- A client may find itself contending with other parties over their respective rights under a given insurance policy, or there may be a situation in which more than one insurance policy may be called upon to cover a given loss or liability.
- A client can be involved in a direct dispute with an insurer that is refusing or failing to pay — or delaying payment — under a policy that should otherwise provide coverage.
In each of these situations, our priority is to secure the rights of our clients and fulfill their objectives in as timely and cost-effective a manner as possible.
We regularly seek alternative means of bringing closure to claims conflicts through arbitration, mediation and settlement. We bring to bear our knowledge of how insurance companies interpret their policies and the methods they use to delay or avoid paying claims. However, in order to achieve the satisfactory resolution of insurance disputes, a demonstration of resolve – and the ability to withstand insurer opposition or obstinacy – is often required before meaningful negotiations are possible.
When litigation is the best option, we act aggressively and use every tool at our disposal. We think like a client, respond with the commitment of an owner and advocate with zeal.
Our attorneys are on the leading edge of emerging insurance coverage issues and litigation. We are trial lawyers, regularly appearing in State and Federal courts at the trial and appellate levels throughout the United States. We have won a number of significant victories that have industry-wide ramifications, involving issues of broad-ranging importance to policyholders, including:
- Valley Forge Ins. Co. v. Swiderski Electronics, Inc., 223 Ill. 2d 352, 860 N.E.2d 307 (Ill. Supreme Court 2006) (expanding advertising injury coverage and holding that undefined terms in insurance policies are afforded their plain, ordinary and popular meanings) (Swiderski was recognized by Mealey Publications as one of the 10 most significant insurance coverage decisions of 2006)
- Central Illinois Light Co. v. Home Ins. Co., 213 Ill. 2d 141, 821 N.E.2d 206 (Ill. Supreme Court 2004) (appearing as amicus) (determining that insured’s liability need not be fixed by the resolution of a lawsuit to trigger the duty to indemnify and that insured’s participation in a “voluntary” state cleanup program constitutes a legal obligation)
- Guillen v. Potomac Ins. Co., 203 Ill. 2d 141, 785 N.E.2d 1 (Ill. Supreme Court 2003) (construing for the first time the section of the Insurance Code requiring insurers to maintain proof of mailing notice of material changes to coverage and addressing the rights of an insured to settle underlying claims after insurer breach of the duty to defend)
- Johnson Controls Inc. v. Employers Ins. of Wausau, 264 Wis. 3d 60, 665 N.W.2d 257 (Wis. Supreme Court 2003) (appearing as amicus) (determining that environmental response costs are “damages” and that a PRP letter demanding remediation is a “suit” for insurance coverage purposes)
- Perry v. Economy Fire & Cas. Co., 311 Ill. App. 3rd 69, 724 N.E.2d 151 (1st Dist. 1999) (determining the type of notice an insurer must give a policyholder before materially changing coverage)
- American States Ins. Co. v. Koloms, 177 Ill. 2d 473, 687 N.E.2d 72 (Ill. Supreme Court 1997) (appearing as amicus) (finding the pollution exclusion applies only to traditional pollution and not to an accidental release of carbon monoxide from a broken furnace)
- Insurance Co. of Illinois v. Stringfield, 292 Ill. App. 3d 471, 685 N.E.2d 980 (1st Dist. 1997) (limiting the scope of an insurance policy's pollution exclusion)