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Monday, April 15, 2024

Is an Insurance coverage Coverage Non-Shareable Work Product?

It is not uncommon apply for insurance coverage attorneys to ship doc requests to the insurance coverage firm through the preliminary phases of consumer illustration. Final week, our workplace despatched a doc request to a nationally recognized insurance coverage firm, together with a request for an authorized copy of the coverage. The seasoned dealing with adjuster, whose e mail signature indicated he had an Affiliate in Claims (AIC) insurance coverage designation, responded that the provider wouldn’t present a duplicate of the coverage as a result of it was “work product” and couldn’t be shared. The adjuster as a substitute directed us again to our consumer to offer us with a duplicate of the coverage. Whereas I’ve encountered loads of provider representatives who made acquiring a duplicate of the coverage troublesome, this was the primary time work product doctrine was cited to stop manufacturing.

What’s “work product”?

Work product is a authorized idea meant to exempt from discovery paperwork and tangible issues ready in anticipation of litigation or for trial.[1] Its function is to present attorneys a sure diploma of privateness, free from pointless intrusion by opposing events and their counsel. A doc is protected by the work product privilege if it was ready in anticipation of litigation by one other get together or that get together’s consultant and was meant to stay confidential. In any other case, work product doctrine doesn’t apply to paperwork ready through the atypical and routine course of enterprise operations.

Clearly, an insurance coverage coverage drafted within the regular course of enterprise just isn’t a doc ready in anticipation of litigation or meant to stay confidential. 

On this case, the dealing with adjuster obtained a reply from our workplace rapidly dispelling his concept that an insurance coverage coverage is non-shareable work product. It definitely didn’t assist his work product argument that the state’s insurance coverage code explicitly requires the insurer to ship a duplicate of the coverage and endorsements upon the insured’s request. The adjuster later recanted and agreed to rearrange for the manufacturing of the licensed coverage.

As an insurance coverage trade skilled, I’ve made comparable doc requests for years. Sadly, insurance coverage provider representatives usually impede or delay these easy requests by sending paperwork which can be turned the other way up, pages which can be out of order, shrunk all the way down to the purpose of being illegible, or flat refusing to supply. One other widespread tactic to delay the declare overview course of is adjusters’ insistence on offering paper copies through postal supply as a substitute of digital copies when particularly requested.

When insurance coverage firm representatives pull stunts like this, it undermines the belief and transparency important to the insurer-insured relationship. That is additionally vital why, as employers, it’s important for insurance coverage firms to offer their representatives enough coaching on good religion declare dealing with in addition to the principles and laws for the state.

[1] See e.g., Villarreal v. United Fireplace & Cas. Co., 873 N.W.second 714, 727 (Iowa 2016) (Inner citations omitted and holding that within the context of first-party bad-faith insurance coverage litigation, supplies that had been drafted within the atypical course of enterprise should not protected by the work product doctrine apart from these containing paperwork particularly ready in anticipation of litigation).

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