Topic: Massachusetts Developments

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court set to take up issue of reimbursement of defense costs for non-covered claims

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently agreed to a joint request for direct appellate review of a decision earlier this year in which the trial court ruled that insurance companies were not entitled to reimbursement of defense costs they had paid to defend their insured, absent policy provisions requiring such.

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Massachusetts Legislation on Motor Vehicle Insurance Quotes

The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Financial Services recently held a hearing on legislation that would require motor vehicle insurers to check an applicant’s driving history before providing a premium quote. House Bill 3682, titled “an act relative to fair and accurate motor vehicle insurance quotes,” is sponsored by the Committee’s Vice-Chair, Representative Michael Finn. The bill has received support from a trade association representing insurance agents as well as some insurance companies. However, trade groups representing insurers are opposed to the legislation, arguing that any lag between preliminary and verified quotes stems from incompatibility between technology at insurance companies and the State’s Registry of Motor Vehicles that is beyond a company’s...

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Massachusetts Highest Court Issues Important Decision On Insurers’ Duty to Defend and Liability for Multiple Damages

In Boyle v. Zurich American Insurance Company, 472 Mass. 649 (2015), decided on September 14, 2015, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (the “SJC”) indicated, to the dismay of the insurance defense bar, that the right to a defense under a liability insurance policy is not merely contractual, but rather tantamount to constitutional, rendering that right virtually impossible to waive.

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Massachusetts Appeals Court Holds Primary Insurer’s Excess “Other Insurance” Clause Does Not Avoid Duty To Defend

In Preferred Mutual Insurance Company v. Vermont Mutual Insurance Company, 87 Mass App Ct. 510 (June 17, 2015), the Massachusetts Appeals Court discussed several interesting insurance coverage issues when it addressed a dispute between a homeowner’s insurer and a CGL insurer. The facts of the case were as follows.

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Massachusetts Court Rejects Insurer’s Attempt to Recoup Defense and Indemnity Payments

In a recent decision, a Massachusetts trial court addressed whether an insurer could recoup previously-paid indemnity and defense costs from its insured. Finding that the insured had not obtained the payments as a result of fraud or bad faith, and that the insurer had failed to cite policy language permitting reimbursement or show that the insured had entered into an express agreement regarding the insurer’s right to seek reimbursement, the court rejected the insurer’s request for reimbursement.

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Massachusetts Appeals Court Orders That 93A Claim Against Carrier Be Severed, Reverses Trial Court

In Santacroce v. Sametz, a plaintiff brought suit against both the alleged tortfeasor for negligence, and the tortfeasor’s insurer for bad faith in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws chs. 176D and 93A. The insurer, as is often the case, moved to sever and stay the Chapter 176D and 93A claims. This motion was denied by the trial judge, who noted that “privileges [work product and attorney client] can be protected by less drastic methods than severance and staying these claims.”

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