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Attorney: Insurance Policy Exclusions Still Fodder for New York Courts

Author Evan Krinick takes a look at 25 years of insurance cases in new book.
  • John Weber
  • April 2021
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Court of Appeals Year in Review: Insurance Law 1995 - 2020

Evan Krinick, managing partner, Rivkin Radler LLP, recently published a compendium, Court of Appeals Year in Review: Insurance Law 1995 - 2020. In it, he addresses cases and trends heard by the New York Court of Appeals over a 25-year period. Following is an edited transcript of the interview with AM Best TV.

You've just published a digital compendium based on 25 years' worth of columns. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Having written a column for 25 years, it seemed like an appropriate time to take a look at all the years and all the cases.

It turned out to be 187 separate cases that the New York Court of Appeals had decided in insurance law. We were able to provide some statistical analysis of how the court resolved these disputes.

It's really incredible when you look at all those cases, the diversity of the insurance policies that the court faced.

Every insurance policy that you can imagine has been before the court, every exclusion, every portion of an insuring agreement, just a tremendous breadth of issues.

What were some of the highlights of the compendium?

There were 161 cases that were insurance carrier versus a policyholder. For many years, New York has had a reputation as a pro-insurance company jurisdiction.

We determined that in 55% of the cases, the carrier prevailed, and in 45% of the cases the policyholder prevailed. What does that tell you? I think it tells you that the perception is mostly accurate.

What dominated as far as type of litigation went?

Certainly the two insurance policies that received the most attention was the automobile insurance policy, including the no-fault and under insurance endorsement and the [commercial general liability] policy.

Other policies such as life policies, health policies, property policies, excess policies, reinsurance treaties, those are far less prevalent.

What's changed when it comes to insurance litigation?

What's changed is that the more we go on, the more things stay the same. You would like to think that after all these years of litigation, people have an understanding what an exclusion means, but there is no shortage of bright lawyers out there arguing different interpretations of exclusions that have been in policies for decades.

—John Weber

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