News & Resources

Author: VPM Legal

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Insurance Coverage: Do Agents Have a Duty to Advise Customers on What They Should Buy?

Wed Jul 31st, 2019 on     Insurance Claims,    

Generally speaking, an insurance agent has no obligation to, on its own, evaluate a customer’s particular insurance needs or give the customer advice regarding the coverage the customer should purchase. That said, insurance agents do have a duty to take the appropriate steps to protect their policyholders from potential risks and liabilities. If you think you have a claim for insurance agent or broker malpractice, a Miami insurance coverage lawyer can assist you. Importantly, if you can show that a “special relationship” existed with your insurance agent, his or her duty may be expanded to include advice on the insurance necessary to fulfill your needs.  Basic Duties of Insurance Agents and Brokers Insurance brokers are required to exercise good faith and reasonable skill, care and diligence in procuring insurance requested in accordance with the client’s instructions.  They are also obligated to obtain: Coverage that is not materially deficient Coverage undertaken to be supplied at the requested limits Requested coverage within a reasonable time (or inform client of inability to do so). No General Duty to Advise Regarding Coverage Deficiencies or Needs If the agent has contracted to provide “standard” brokerage services, then the agent has not agreed to evaluate the customer’s needs or to give the customer advice regarding the coverage the customer should have. This is because insurance agents and brokers are not seen by the law as personal financial counselors or risk manages.  A general request for “full coverage” or the “best policy” does not broaden the broker’s […]

Challenges to the Insurance Industry in 2019

Wed Jul 17th, 2019 on     Insurance Claims,    

Over the past decade there has been an explosion of technological, economic and cultural innovation, dramatically changing how we do business and live our lives. Many of these developments have disrupted the traditional approach to insurance. As a Miami insurance law firm, we stay up-to-date on trends that impact our industry. From the gig economy to driverless cars and the internet of things, insurance companies are racing to find creative, cost-effective solutions that match the innovation of today. Gig Economy Essentially, the “gig economy” is a labor market based on short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs. Current examples include ride-sharing apps, food delivery services, and online marketplaces such as Airbnb and Rover. The underlying principle in the gig or “sharing” economy is that individuals can provide or obtain a paid personal service while operating outside of conventional business regulations and employment law. Because the agreements for these services do not fall exclusively into either the personal or commercial categories, insurance companies have had to determine whether personal liability plans will cover such services. Many insurers have responded to the challenge by excluding quasi-commercial uses from personal policies and replacing them with specific add-on options. For example, in the context of a standard personal auto policy insurance companies are requiring additional commercial coverage to provide protection when driving for a rideshare service.  Driverless Cars While the majority of “autonomous” cars today are still partially under driver control, the challenge for insurers will be the issue of who […]

Understanding Business Interruption Insurance

Fri May 31st, 2019 on     Insurance Claims,    

Many commercial property policies, as well as business owner’s policies (package policy for small businesses, often referred to as a “BOP”), include business interruption coverage.  It is designed to protect your business from a loss in income caused by an insurable event.  As Miami insurance coverage attorneys, we are experienced in helping our clients to maximize their recovery when a fire, hurricane or other disaster causes an interruption in business operations.  There are four important elements of business interruption insurance.  First, it is only triggered in three limited circumstances: Physical damages to the premises of such magnitude that the business must suspend its operations; Physical damage to other property caused by an insurable loss and that prevents customers or employees from gaining access to the business; or The government shuts down in an area due to property damage caused by an insurable event that prevents customers or employees from gaining access to the business. Most Policies Have a Waiting Period A second critical element is that even after a covered event occurs, most policies have a waiting period of several days before business interruption kicks in.  Once it does, coverage will not be retroactive to the day of the event. Business Interruption Coverage is Limited Third, after the waiting period ends, coverage will be provided for lost net income, temporary relocation expenses (designed to reduce overall costs), and ongoing expenses such as payroll that enable businesses to continue paying employees rather than laying them off. Importantly, business interruption coverage is […]

What Does Directors and Officers Liability Insurance Cover?

Fri May 24th, 2019 on     FAQs,    

Directors and officers liability insurance, often referred to as “D&O” insurance, is designed to protect the personal assets of the company’s leaders and comes into play if they are personally sued for actions taken on behalf of the company.  As Miami insurance law attorneys, we are experienced in representing our clients in Directors and Officers Liability Insurance Disputes.  Company leaders can be sued for a variety of reasons ranging from allegations of financial mismanagement to negligent business decisions, and are frequent targets when shareholders, customers, vendors, suppliers, employees, creditors and other parties are displeased with the company’s actions. Individual Director and Officer Coverage and Corporate Entity Coverage A typical D&O policy includes several elements (referred to as “sides”).  Side A protects a corporation’s directors and officers for loss arising from claims against them when the company cannot indemnify them.  Side B reimburses the company when it indemnifies the individuals.  Side C, also known as “entity coverage,” eliminates disputes over coverage allocation when both the directors and officers and the insured organization are named as co-defendants in a securities lawsuit. Claims That May Target Company Leadership Business leaders can be held responsible for a company’s failure to comply with regulations and to provide a safe and secure workplace.  Additionally, if a company is found liable for losses because of operational failure and mismanagement, directors and officers may be exposed to liability as well.  Types of claims include: Shareholder suits over company or stock performance; Creditor or investor suits over mismanagement or […]

How to Maximize Your Recovery for Hurricane Damage

Fri May 17th, 2019 on     Insurance Claims,    

Most homes have homeowners policies covering wind damage, but insurers have been steadily increasing hurricane wind coverage deductibles and imposing other sometimes draconian policy limitations.  In addition, homeowners’ policies do not cover flood, earthquake, tree removal (unless the tree damages the house) or food spoilage from power failures.  As a Miami insurance recovery attorney can tell you, in the wake of a storm, homeowners must be vigilant with their insurance companies throughout the claims process to ensure that they receive a full and fair settlement.  Your claim is unique and should be treated as such by your insurance company.  Here are some important tips and considerations as you go through the claims process.    Tips for Filing Flood and Wind Claims First, If you have a legitimate claim, do not hesitate to file it.  Insurers should not raise your rate for filing a claim or fail to renew your policy as a result.  Second, once your claim is reported, be sure to make a note of your claim number.  Third, maintain receipts for any expenditures related to immediate repairs you had to make to secure your home or any living expenses (hotel, meals) if you could not return to your home following the storm.  These may be reimbursable under the “Additional Living Expense” portion of your homeowners’ policy.  Forth, many insurance companies have repair programs in which they offer to send out one of their approved contractors to estimate your property damage.  While you may wish to obtain an estimate […]

New Jersey High Court Rejects Junk Science in Product Liability Cases

Fri May 10th, 2019 on     Insurance Claims,    

New Jersey has joined the majority of states by supporting the federal “Daubert standard” for assessing the reliability of expert testimony.  In a recent decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the “gatekeeper” role of judges, allowing them to prevent juries from hearing scientific evidence the courts deem unreliable.  As a Miami insurance law firm, we stay up-to-date on legal developments that impact our practice.  Expert witnesses are the lynch pin of a product liability case, so the Court’s decision clarifying the standard for admissibility of expert testimony will have a huge impact on product liability litigation in the state.  In re Accutane Litigation Decision  The plaintiffs alleged a causal condition between the acne medicine Accutane and Crohn’s Disease, a gastrointestinal illness, despite the fact that all of the epidemiological studies concluded that there is no causal relationship.  At trial, plaintiffs intended to call experts to dispute the conclusions of the studies and to assert the contrary view, “relying on other facts and forms of data.”  Defendants challenged the methodology as unreliable and sought the exclusion of the expert’s testimony.  The trial court agreed, but the Appellate Division reversed the decision, concluding that the experts employed a “sound methodology” and simply interpreted the data differently than defendants’ experts.        In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s exclusion of plaintiffs’ expert testimony and clarified its standard for assessing the reliability of expert witnesses.  The Court expects trial courts “to assess both the methodology used by the expert […]

Hot Topics in Disability Insurance for 2019

Fri Apr 26th, 2019 on     Disability Insurance,    

As Miami Disability Insurance Lawyers, we stay up-to-date on trends in the area of Disability Benefits. Several topics that have been gaining attention include employee engagement,  automation, and marijuana.  Employers are grappling with these issues, all of which are likely to impact disability insurance benefits for employees.  From increasing awareness of mental and behavioral health to learning to embrace technology while still maintaining a human connection between employer and employee and understanding the interplay between state and federal laws on medical marijuana use in the workplace, the needs and concerns of employees are being heard and addressed in new ways, while employers reap the benefits of employee loyalty and commitment. Employee Engagement Increasing employee engagement and participation with group benefit programs is a hot button for many employers.  This is not surprising considering that employee benefits are often an employer’s second largest expense, after labor.  Employers are exploring ways to increase productivity, while generating loyalty and commitment.  Examples include on-site day care, financial wellness, and other initiatives to help employees focus on work and reduce stress.  Incorporating systems and strategies for addressing employee mental health and well-being is emerging as a key component of employee engagement.    Automation New technologies are poised to radically change areas of labor, including disability programs. At the same time, however, employers and employees are concerned about losing a sense of human connection to the workplace.  Employers are responding by offering customized benefits, including enhanced disability programs, and introducing automated and digital technologies to the […]

Understanding Homeowners’ Insurance in Florida

Fri Apr 19th, 2019 on     Property Insurance,    

Floridians are well aware of the importance of homeowners’ insurance.  Planning ahead for the possibility of hurricanes, windstorms, sinkholes and other disasters, as well as individual losses such as home invasions or fires, can bring peace of mind and help minimize the disruption to your personal and professional lives. As Miami property insurance lawyers, we are experienced in assisting homeowners in maximizing their recovery following a loss.  The first step to a successful outcome for your claim is understanding what is covered under your policy and how the claims process works. What Does My Policy Cover? Generally, a homeowners’ insurance policy provides coverage against specific perils or events that cause damage to the property (such as fire, windstorm, theft) or the following: Structure (the dwelling itself) Other structures (such as sheds and fences) Personal property (the contents of the structures) Loss of use (also known as “Additional Living Expense,” which may pay some extra expenses if damage to your home prevents you from living there during repairs) Personal liability (against a claim resulting from injury to others on your property) Medical payments to others (for persons accidentally injured at your home, not included residents of the home) Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover damage caused by windstorms, hurricanes and hail, unless you sign to waive the coverage.  Importantly, however, you cannot obtain new or additional coverage when a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning has been issued for your area.  You shouldn’t wait until the last minute to purchase your […]

What You Need to Know About Cyber Insurance

Fri Apr 12th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

The potential impact of technology on the business of insurance cannot be overstated. Although “InsurTech” is relatively new, the sector has drawn significant attention from investors, as well as from established insurers, who are beginning to change their service models.  In response to changing consumer habits, especially for tech-savvy millennials, new innovations are emerging every day, with the goal of offering simpler products tailored to specific needs and a streamlined customer experience.  As Miami insurance law attorneys, we are following the InsurTech explosion with interest, both for its potential benefits to policyholders, as well as for the resulting industry disruption. What is InsurTech? The term “InsurTech” encompasses the innovative use of technology in insurance.  It is a subset of financial technology, or “FinTech,” which has transformed the banking world.  InsurTech is the technology that lies behind the creation, distribution and administration of insurance.  Smartphone apps, wearables, claims processing tools, online policy handling and automated processing are all InsurTech.  Much of the current InsurTech market involves start-ups targeting millennials, who are accustomed to instant gratification, by focusing on speed, efficiency, and cost reduction.  Examples include: Lemonade, whose motto is “instant everything,” Slice (“instant coverage for all”), and Hippo (“modern home insurance”). The success of these and other start-ups also relies on the demand for greater customization of insurance products, as well as the prevalence of the sharing economy.  For example, Airbnb hosts have created the need for limited commercial coverage, as opposed to a comprehensive commercial policy.  Pay-per-mile automobile insurance caters […]

What You Need to Know About Cyber Insurance

Fri Apr 5th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

It is impossible to turn on the news today without hearing about cyber security.  Data breaches and cyberattacks have become almost a constant threat.  As a Miami Insurance Law Firm, we have seen an increase in cyber liability.  And it is not just huge corporations that are targeted by cybercriminals.  Small businesses are also susceptible to events that can damage reputations and put customers and employees at risk.  One of a company’s most valuable assets is its data, and it is important to know that there are specific insurance products available that can not only provide the traditional risk transfer function but can also help your business identify cybersecurity gaps and opportunities for improvement. How is Cyber Liability Covered While many cyber liability claims are submitted under commercial general liability (CGL) policies, such claims can also trigger directors and officers (D&O), errors and omissions (E&O) and other policy types.  Typically, insurance companies argue that cyber liability, such as claims arising from data breaches involving sensitive customer information, is excluded from coverage under general liability policies.  Some insurers are adding cyber-specific exclusions to traditional insurance products.  Some courts have concluded that traditional polices do not cover cyber losses. Today, many insurance companies offer risk-specific cyber insurance policies designed to protect policyholders against data breaches and other cyber-related risks.  Roughly 30% of companies currently have some form of cyber insurance.  Coverage can protect against first party losses (direct losses to the policyholder) and third-party claims (policyholder liabilities to third parties).  First party […]

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