The Insurance Coverage Practice Group
Degan, Blanchard & Nash’s insurance coverage practice has many decades of combined experience in providing insurance coverage advice and in defending insurers in coverage litigation. The coverage group maintains its national expertise and handles claims and litigation arising in all fifty states. Although the insurance coverage group focuses exclusively on the coverage advice and litigation needs of insurers, our coverage lawyers are also skilled in defending liability issues, especially in Louisiana where, due to the state’s Direct Action Statute, insurers are most often sued directly by plaintiffs.
The insurance coverage group’s experience includes providing coverage opinions and litigation defense in insurance coverage actions in the context of claims arising under general liability, professional liability, energy, marine, cargo, builders risk, commercial package, inland marine, umbrella and excess liability policies. Personal lines experience includes claims arising under commercial property, homeowners, automobile, farm liability and personal umbrella policies. As an example of our wide range of practice, our insurance coverage attorneys are currently representing insurers in cases involving construction defects and mold in high-rise apartment buildings, college dormitory complexes, two medical complexes, and condominium projects. The insurance coverage group is also handling several environmental pollution lawsuits stemming from oil and gas exploration activities in both Louisiana and Texas. Following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ivan, the insurance coverage group represented first party property insurers, both domestic and foreign, in more than 300 property damage claims. The coverage group is also currently representing a large domestic insurer in a multi-million dollar settlement recovery lawsuit in Florida.
Degan, Blanchard & Nash’s insurance coverage attorneys are also experienced in defending, and helping our insurer clients to prevent, bad faith claims. We have extensive experience in defending insurers in bad faith litigation under both first party and third party policies in states, such as Louisiana, where bad faith law is statutory, and in states, such as Texas and California, where common law bad faith theories apply.
Our firm’s insurance coverage attorneys employ a disciplined and structural approach to coverage analysis which relies upon a careful and focused consideration of the specific claim involved in light of the terms, structure, purpose and organization of the policy or policies at issue. When appropriate, we also take into account the underwriting, risk assessment, and premium structure of the policy, the availability of other types of insurance to cover the loss in question, and public policy considerations as they relate to the insurability of a particular loss. Our insurance coverage attorneys’ approach enables our attorneys to identify, illuminate and resolve complex, and even unique, coverage problems in a concise, coherent and logically consistent fashion. This approach frequently enables us to anticipate and address, in our initial analysis, issues which otherwise might only become apparent much later in the claims handling process. Having identified such issues, we are then in a position to advise our clients what steps should be taken to deal with the issues in a proactive, rather than a reactive, manner. We can then assert and defend coverage positions which, under a more conventional analytical approach, would likely be overlooked, misunderstood or, at best, inadequately developed.
Degan, Blanchard & Nash’s coverage attorneys have successfully litigated coverage under manuscript policy provisions and exclusions on which there was no controlling jurisprudence. Our attorneys have successfully convince courts that policy exclusions based on the status of the person injured or property damaged (such as exclusions for injury to employees of the insured and damage to property within the insured’s care, custody and control), must be viewed differently than exclusions based on the nature and cause of the injury or damage (i.e., assault and battery exclusions and exclusions for injury or damage arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of automobiles, aircraft or watercraft). Our representation of our clients has resulted in published appellate court opinions favorable to insurers on novel coverage issues.