On December 9, 2014 and August 20, 2015, we reported on the reinsurance dispute between Utica Mutual Insurance Company and Clearwater Insurance Company. In a recent ruling, the court rejected Clearwater’s argument that the follow the fortunes doctrine did not apply and that Clearwater was relieved of its obligations under the subject reinsurance contract. Clearwater contended that Utica unreasonably and in bad faith shifted all of its liabilities to its umbrella policies to maximize reinsurance recovery. As an alternative basis to avoid liability, Clearwater also argued that Utica billed it for items for which it was not entitled to recover.
In rejecting Clearwater’s arguments, the court explained that while the follow the fortunes doctrine requires the cedent to align its interests with its reinsurer, in order to show bad faith, Clearwater was required to establish an “extraordinary showing of a disingenuous or dishonest failure” and that the cedent acted with gross negligence or recklessness. The court found that Clearwater could not make such a showing. The Court noted that Utica did not have any fiduciary duty to place Clearwater’s interests above its own nor minimize its reinsurance recovery in order to avoid bad faith. And the Court summarily dismissed Clearwater’s argument that some of the billings were not covered by the reinsurance, ruling that if the payment was arguably within the scope of the insurance policy, then it was within the reinsurance. Utica Mutual Insurance Co. v. Clearwater Insurance Co., Case No. 6:13-cv-01178 (USDC N.D.N.Y. Jan. 20, 2016).