January 21, 2020 Profile

Profile: Property Insurance Law Committee: Keeping Current on First-Party Property Insurance Issues and Trends

By Jonathan R. MacBride

The TIPS Property Insurance Law Committee focuses on current and emerging issues in the first-party property insurance world. It is comprised of practitioners and industry professionals representing both insurance company and policyholder interests. The committee focuses on vital legal and practical issues facing the insurance industry and insurance consumers in first-party property insurance. Through publications and continuing legal education (CLE) programs, the committee provides content designed to help new practitioners learn about first-party property issues and to allow more experienced practitioners to stay up to date on new and emerging trends.

The committee conducted a CLE program this year titled “Evolution: Property Insurance Law from Cargo to Crypto,” which focused on how property insurance is utilizing, adapting, and responding to emerging technology and economic development. Panel discussions addressed the increase in intangible losses, the use of drones in the adjusting process, blockchain/cryptocurrency issues, and the growth of the sharing community. Each presentation was led by attorneys representing the insurance industry and attorneys who represent policyholders. The panels often included insurance company representatives, consultants, and brokers who represent policyholders.

By using such diverse panels, the committee provides a breadth of experience and opinions not typically found at other insurance conferences. The dialogue created by these panels often helps both sides of the bench understand each other better. In addition, the opportunity to spend some social time with professionals representing diverse areas helps promote a more collegial relationship when the parties encounter each other outside the conference. The relationships developed at these CLEs often help turn what is naturally an adversarial situation into one that may be more productive to both parties.

Past CLE programs have focused on hot topics in property insurance law, how major natural catastrophes have shaped property insurance law, builders risk losses, and understanding basic property forms. Each of these programs provided relevant information and case law updates that cannot be found anywhere else in the industry. The committee always is looking to partner with other TIPS committees that have a similar interest. Past programs have been cosponsored with the TIPS Dispute Resolution Committee and Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee.

The Property Insurance Law Committee publishes a quarterly newsletter that provides a great opportunity for TIPS members to have articles published and offers additional resources for committee members to keep current on the law as it evolves. The committee regularly contributes articles to The Brief and provides a compilation of recent developments in property insurance coverage litigation for the annual survey published by the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal. The committee also has published the Property Insurance Litigation Handbook, which is in its second edition; currently, the committee is working on a third edition that it hopes to have available in 2020.

As we enter the 2019–2020 bar year, the Property Insurance Law Committee no longer will conduct a stand-alone two- or three-day CLE program. Instead, the committee is planning to provide one-day CLE programs at different locations throughout the country as it attempts to continue to provide informative content that reaches committee members nationwide. These programs will include the same first-rate panel discussions on current and emerging issues as those conducted at the former standalone CLE programs. The hope is that by sponsoring several events throughout the country, the committee can reach more TIPS members. The committee will continue to conduct monthly business meeting conference calls on the first Thursday of every month.

As the Section and its committees adapt to the ever-changing marketplace, the Property Insurance Law Committee will continue to engage its members and provide quality educational opportunities to those interested in first-party property insurance. To find out more about the Property Insurance Law Committee and to join, please visit our committee page on the TIPS website at www.americanbar.org/groups/tort_trial_insurance_practice/committees/property_insurance_law, or email me at jmacbride@zelle.com
if you are interested in participating in the committee’s monthly business meeting conference calls. 

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Jonathan R. MacBride, chair of TIPS’s Property Insurance Law Committee, is a partner at Zelle LLP in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, where his practice focuses on the representation of domestic and international insurance and reinsurance markets in coverage disputes, claim evaluations, and recovery efforts arising out of residential, commercial, and industrial losses throughout the United States.