CLM New York kicks off Dec. 12, 2018, with educational tracks covering insurance coverage, extra-contractual, and claims/litigation management, followed by CLM’s own holiday party. We chat with Acuity’s Lea Kapral, who helped put together the sessions for the insurance coverage track.
What trends are reflected in the program?
The Insurance Coverage Committee looked for a strong diversity of topics for the seminar because we know that CLM’s members and fellows have different backgrounds and areas of expertise. We thus wanted to offer both in-depth, fresh analysis of everyday issues, as well as broad overviews of cutting-edge issues in which our members might just be beginning to immerse themselves. Although all proposals were excellent, we were drawn to those that offered the most practical tips and takeaways for our members.
What sessions are you most excited about?
I’m looking forward to the presentation “Considerations for Mediating Liability Claims with Insurance Coverage Issues.” The panel will discuss how the most effective mediation result is when a united front is presented against the plaintiff. Defense counsel’s role is to argue damages and liability on behalf of the insured. Coverage can support these arguments while explaining how the policy may respond. A coverage dispute does not have to be controversial; often it’s another voice in support of the insured making offers within the parameters of the policy where coverage applies. Having spent a great deal of my career in this arena, I am interested to see how the panel presenters have approached this issue in their own practices.
“When Little White Lies Lead to Big Gray Areas” also looks very good to me. It reminds all carriers of the importance of reviewing the application and disclosures when applying for coverage. Is the advised risk really the risk? Again, there is this balance between the business end of acquiring worthy insureds and taking the time to foresee risks down the road when an application glosses over important details.
Is there one thing you hope attendees will leave New York having learned?
I’d like to think that attendees will leave New York having learned that, while coverage analysis can be complex, there is a methodical way to untangle it. Once you do that, you have a framework or “grid” upon which you can add future developments and issues, which then fall into place. Also, I’d like them to be reassured that we are all learning new things about coverage each year, and it is OK not to know the answer to everything.
What challenges do insurers face in 2018 and beyond when it comes to insurance coverage issues?
There are two important issues that we can all see coming next year. The first is the wind-versus-water claims following this extensive hurricane season. Insurers and their insureds seem to be at odds on this issue, and hurricane exclusions and endorsements, although filling the gap somewhat, are often not purchased, leaving us in a similar predicament as when cyber liability polices first came on the scene. The second is the decision in the Roundup case, where the employee who applied the weed killer sued for damages arising from a terminal cancer diagnosis that he felt occurred from exposure to that pesticide. He won a very large verdict, which was then lowered dramatically. The resolution of that case should be discussed in the boardrooms of every insurance company because it affects litigation strategy on high-profile cases. Is it worth it to litigate it to the end because you may ultimately prevail? Or should significant settlements be considered because it is more cost-efficient or otherwise advisable?
CLM’s Holiday Party takes place during the show, too. Have you attended before?
The holiday party is a great opportunity to mingle and network with the people you’ve encountered throughout the sessions. Its timing—after the seminar—is ideal for continuing conversations that began on the topics addressed during the sessions in a relaxed, casual setting.