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Monday, April 15, 2024

Is an Insurance coverage Coverage Non-Shareable Work Product?

It is not uncommon observe for insurance coverage attorneys to ship doc requests to the insurance coverage firm in the course of the preliminary phases of shopper illustration. Final week, our workplace despatched a doc request to a nationally identified insurance coverage firm, together with a request for a licensed 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 replica of the coverage as a result of it was “work product” and couldn’t be shared. The adjuster as an alternative directed us again to our shopper to supply us with a replica of the coverage. Whereas I’ve encountered loads of provider representatives who made acquiring a replica 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 goal is to provide 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 occasion or that occasion’s consultant and was supposed to stay confidential. In any other case, work product doctrine doesn’t apply to paperwork ready in the course of the unusual and routine course of enterprise operations.

Clearly, an insurance coverage coverage drafted within the regular course of enterprise is just not a doc ready in anticipation of litigation or supposed 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 replica 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 related 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 right down to the purpose of being illegible, or flat refusing to supply. One other widespread tactic to delay the declare assessment course of is adjusters’ insistence on offering paper copies by way of postal supply as an alternative 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 essential why, as employers, it’s important for insurance coverage firms to supply their representatives enough coaching on good religion declare dealing with in addition to the principles and rules for the state.

[1] See e.g., Villarreal v. United Hearth & 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 unusual course of enterprise will not be protected by the work product doctrine aside from these containing paperwork particularly ready in anticipation of litigation).

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