In our practice representing policyholders in disputes with their insurers, we work closely not just with clients, but with the clients’ insurance brokers as well. This blog celebrates the All-Stars—those brokers who are truly great performers.
All-Star insurance brokers are trained and competent professionals. They understand their clients’ business, they assess unusual risks and insure against them. They advise clients on appropriate insurance to purchase (or not to purchase). They keep current on the insurance markets, negotiate competitive coverage terms and pricing, and manage additional insured and other operational issues. All of those skills gets one into the league as a utility infielder. Also those infielders work as a team: When clients ask us to review insurance programs, we know it’s best to consult and implement suggestions jointly with the brokers.
But, when a significant claim arises under a policy, and especially when the insurers assert reasons to deny a claim, that’s when the client needs its best performers on the field. That’s often when we get involved as coverage counsel. And, that’s when the All-Star brokers distinguish themselves. Here’s how they do so—
- Keep the policies. A “policyholder” is one who “holds” the policy. But, policyholders aren’t insurance professionals. Brokers are. All-Star brokers keep copies of policies and all related documents. Forever. Without the policies and pertinent documents, the client may never get to first base. We have successfully collected tens of millions of dollars on asbestos and environmental claims under decades-old policies. Some of those recoveries were directly attributable to All-Star brokers who kept policy copies.
- Anticipate the difficult claims. Because brokers are often consulted before a claim is submitted, the All-Stars use the opportunity to anticipate difficulties, just as a ballplayer anticipates the next pitch or the bunt signal. Brokers or counsel must immediately notify the insurer as soon as they are aware of a claim, even if there is doubt about coverage. If a claim involves potential late notice problems, or a close call on whether an exclusion may apply, or any of the countless reasons why insurers may deny coverage, the All-Star brokers prepare in advance, compiling documentation, and advising the client to consult with coverage counsel.
- Be a team player. If clients ask coverage counsel to review proposed coverages, All-Star brokers work as a team to obtain the coverages best suited to the client’s needs. Also, successfully pursuing a disputed and complex coverage claim always takes teamwork, best done when coverage counsel, broker, client, and litigation counsel are working together on behalf of the client. All-Stars understand this. All-Star brokers are responsive to clients and counsel. All-Stars lead-off or pinch-hit, depending of what the situation requires.
- Represent the client aggressively. All-Stars are loyal to their clients. We understand the value of brokers’ ongoing relationships with insurers. With some claims, the broker’s relationship and contacts can prove vital to successfully negotiating a claim without costly litigation. But, when the insurer becomes recalcitrant, the whole team needs to work together on the client’s behalf.
Clients face complex, important and nuanced challenges when deciding which insurance coverages to purchase, and when maximizing the value of those assets when claims occur. They deserve the teamwork and support of All-Star brokers and attorneys.