January 21, 2020 Feature

Insurers: A Duty to Volunteer Information?

By Jay Donovan, Jennifer Thiem, Craig Stewart, John Reitwiesner, and Harry Lee

Image from Getty Images

When a policyholder tenders a potentially disputed insurance claim, the ensuing information exchange and communication process will be central to whether the claim can be resolved quickly and amicably. Relevant information obviously includes the insurance policy and basic claim facts, but this is usually just the start, particularly when a claim is a “close call.” In a difficult claim situation, the parties’ communications sometimes devolve into a series of carefully worded, one-sided questions and answers, with each exchange less informative than the last. When the claim then erupts into coverage litigation and the relevant information is obtained through discovery, one or both parties often find themselves saying, “If I had only known that, we could have resolved this claim without a fight.”

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