The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has established March 31, 2016, as the Claims Bar Date in the Reliance Insurance Company Liquidation. Policyholders and claimants may think that if they file a claim on March 31, 2016, the claim will be deemed timely filed. They would be wrong.
March 30 Is the Key Date
The Claims Bar Date is the date prior to which all claims against Reliance Insurance Company and its subsidiaries must be filed with the Liquidator. Accordingly, the last day for filing claims is March 30, 2016. This creates a trap for the unwary into which numerous policyholders and claimants may fall.
Claims are filed by filling out a Proof of Claim form (“POC”). The Claims Bar Date applies to all claims that “in any way affect or seek to affect any assets of the Reliance Estate.” Each individual claim should be the subject of a separate POC. In other words, each POC should identify a specific claimant with identified claimed injuries or damages.
Late Claims Are Barred
With few exceptions, claims not filed by March 30, 2016, will “be forever barred from any distribution of the assets of the Reliance Estate.” Post Bar Date Claims are barred regardless of the reason for the delay, and cannot be saved even if there was “good cause” for the delay.
The POC is generally deemed filed when it is received by the Liquidator. Barred claims include POCs filed to reopen a closed claim after a Notice of Determination has issued, so if there is reasonable potential for additional liability for any claim, whether open or closed, the safer route is to file a new POC by March 30, 2016.
POCs will not be accepted for Potential Claims, which are claims where the specific claim or cause of action occurs, arises, accrues and/or is asserted on or after the Bar Date. However, claims need not be liquidated as to amount, and they may be contingent as to liability.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Following the Claims Bar Date, the Liquidator intends to value individual worker’s compensation claims to their ultimate value. In some states, guaranty associations are paying claims and billing policyholders for the value of those claims.
In those instances, policyholders should submit individual POCs for each workers’ compensation claim for which the policyholder may be billed in the future. When it comes time to value those claims to their ultimate value, the services of an actuary may prove valuable.
The Claims Bar Date Order creates a limited exception for claims first accruing within 30 days before the Claims Bar Date. Those claims will not be barred if a POC is filed within 30 days after the cause of action for that claim accrued. For example, if a cause of action for a claim accrues as of March 9, 2016, the claim will not be barred if the POC is filed within 30 days thereafter.
The Claims Bar Date creates the risk of serious financial loss. In many instances, claimants and policyholders can avoid loss by filing timely, specific POCs with the Liquidator. Reed Smith has assisted numerous policyholders with filing and valuing claims in the Reliance Liquidation, and has pursued objections to notices of determination through the Pennsylvania courts. If you have any questions, please contact the authors of this Alert; Reed Smith Insurance Recovery Group’s Global Practice Group Leader Douglas E. Cameron; or any of the Reed Smith attorneys with whom you routinely work.