The most complex and high-stakes legal challenges facing the insurance industry demand the highest level of expertise and commitment, delivered by a coordinated team across all areas of insurance law. Sedgwick’s insurance practice is organized by substantive discipline with attorneys from each of Sedgwick’s offices in the United States, Europe and our affiliated office in Bermuda.
Sedgwick is a trial and litigation law firm. Our lawyers are trial lawyers — many of whom have tried dozens, and in some instances hundreds, of cases — and are in court trying jury and non-jury cases around the country every day. Our reputation for strength inside the courtroom also enables us to be more effective in pursuing negotiated settlements or alternative dispute resolution strategies.
The trial attorneys in the insurance practice vigorously represent our clients’ interests in court and in arbitrations. The insurance attorneys in each of our substantive practice areas of expertise try coverage and bad faith matters in state and federal courts throughout the United States and in various international tribunals. Our regulatory attorneys work with various states’ insurance departments to assist our clients in meeting their goals and, as necessary, litigate before administrative law judges. Our business attorneys assist insurers with transactions and issues unique to the insurance industry.
Together, the firm’s insurance-related practices comprise one of the largest international teams of trial attorneys, coverage advisors, and consultants regarding the complex business of insurance dedicated to the institutional concerns and success of the insurance industry. When appropriate, our insurance specialists take advantage of the substantive expertise in other practice areas of our firm. The insurance team also works in collaboration with our corporate and bankruptcy attorneys to provide advice and assistance to our insurance industry clients with respect to structuring and negotiation of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, financings, and proceedings under the Bankruptcy Code. With a geographic presence that provides our clients with the required legal talent in the major insurance and litigation centers, Sedgwick is the go-to firm for bet-the-company cases and insurance industry shaping litigation in the following areas:
Admiralty & Energy
Sedgwick attorneys represent a wide variety of port, marine and offshore energy companies and insurers. Our admiralty and energy lawyers regularly counsel energy and marine insurers as to coverage issues and policy content. We also represent carriers in coverage and bad faith litigation. We routinely advise our clients on a wide variety of marine and energy policy forms including hull, marine general liability, protection and indemnity, maritime employers’ liability, energy package policies, builders’ risk, business interruption, operators’ extra expense and loss of production income.
Sedgwick’s aerospace attorneys provide legal services to domestic, London market and other international insurers serving the aerospace industry. These services include policy and endorsement drafting, review of coverage issues and the rendition of coverage advice and prosecution and defense of coverage litigation and bad faith claims. Our attorneys represent clients in litigation and advise them on matters involving a wide variety of coverage forms, including first-party hull coverages, aviation products liability, aircraft (third-party) liability, contingent coverages, hangarkeepers and premises liability, airport liability, personal injury liability, war coverages, deductible policies, excess coverages, reinsurance and space insurance forms.
The attorneys who specialize in casualty coverage advise insurers on many complex policy coverage questions arising in claims presented by regional, national, and multinational policyholders on issues as varied as intellectual property, technology, environmental, toxic tort, construction, land movement, employment, defamation and disparagement, and many other types of business losses. Our attorneys are experienced in interpreting primary and excess third-party liability policies of all types, including commercial general liability, manuscripted policies, umbrella and excess coverages.
Climate Change Coverage
Climate change or global warming remains one of the top legal, political and economic issues of our day. Insurers around the world have already been significantly impacted by property losses, increased regulation and the changing preferences of consumers and investors relating to climate change. Additionally, some commentators describe climate change as the most serious future risk to the insurance industry. As a result, it is becoming ever more important for insurers to understand and address the risks and opportunities arising from climate change.
Sedgwick attorneys advise domestic and international insurers on complex climate change issues, including potential exposure to insurers and their insureds, the developing legal and regulatory landscape and new product opportunities in this area. Our broad and deep experience in the insurance industry allows us to counsel our clients on a wide range of emerging climate change issues and protect their interests in related coverage and bad faith litigation and property and casualty coverage claims across the world.
Directors & Officers
Sedgwick lawyers who practice in this area offer a unique combination of expertise in directors and officers liability, commercial insurance, and corporate law. Our attorneys represent insurers in all aspects of directors and officers liability claims, including the preparation of coverage opinions, claims investigation, litigation and trial. Our attorneys handle cases involving the liability of directors and officers of financial institutions, technology companies, healthcare facilities and leasing companies, among others. We counsel insurers on claims handling procedures and loss prevention, and assist with the drafting of directors and officers policies. Sedgwick serves as supervisory and monitoring counsel for several national directors and officers liability programs.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance
Sedgwick’s attorneys provide the firm’s insurance clients with sophisticated representation, both in analyzing coverages and defending insurers in coverage disputes throughout the country, and on matters involving employment practices liability insurance policies. In light of the tumultuous economic times and its impact on the workforce, our attorneys are busy working with our clients in resolving coverage issues arising out of a panoply of employment matters, such as employment discrimination, sexual harassment, wage and hour disputes, WARN Act claims, claims involving reductions in force, claims under federal and state employment statutes and employee class actions.
Sedgwick represents domestic and international insurance clients in coverage matters involving pollution liability, toxic tort, asbestos, silica and health hazard claims. Our attorneys advise insurers and litigate coverage disputes regarding large-scale environmental claims under pollution legal liability, cost-cap and blended professional liability programs, as well as general liability policies.
Sedgwick provides coverage and litigation counsel in pollution matters involving soil and groundwater contamination arising out of oil and gas production fields and refineries, manufacturing facilities, a major fertilizer spill, leaking waste water ponds, railroad contamination and leaking underground storage tanks. In addition, Sedgwick attorneys have served as national coordinating coverage counsel under pollution liability programs for claims arising out of MTBE contamination and airborne contamination claims arising out of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Extracontractual/Commercial Insurance Litigation
Sedgwick offers a wealth of experience and expertise in representing the insurance industry in courts and other tribunals domestically and internationally. The insurance lawyers who handle extracontractual and commercial litigation apply their extensive expertise in insurance matters in an aggressive yet thoughtful approach to the new challenges facing the insurance industry. In addition to litigating coverage disputes involving all aspects of property and casualty primary and excess insurance and reinsurance, Sedgwick has significant experience defending bad faith litigation, class actions and other representative or private attorney general types of actions (such as Calif. Bus. & Prof. Code §17200 claims).
Our attorneys also regularly handle commercial litigation for the insurance industry. Insurance companies face many of the same legal issues — unrelated to their insurance products — as any other large corporation. Sedgwick’s insurance attorneys, given their intimate knowledge of the insurance industry, handle many commercial disputes for our insurance clients. We also work with the firm’s bankruptcy attorneys when issues involving creditors’ rights and esoteric bankruptcy questions are presented.
Sedgwick has an international reputation for prominence in fidelity law. For more than three decades, Sedgwick attorneys have been investigating, negotiating and defending claims involving fidelity insurance. Our fidelity attorneys handle cases involving employee dishonesty, lending losses, security thefts, safe-deposit burglary, computer crime, and closed bank/savings and loan litigation. In addition to legal representation in situations of loss, our lawyers counsel insurers on policy coverage issues. Our attorneys also assist clients in drafting policy language and have participated in developing policies for special risks. One of the firm’s fidelity lawyers helped prepare the first computer crime policy, and some major changes in fidelity insurance policies are the result of our recommendations.
International Counseling & Arbitration
Sedgwick’s international counseling and arbitration attorneys work collaboratively from the firm’s offices in Europe, Bermuda and the United States. Attorneys in the group have significant expertise in dispute resolution between entities with multinational interests, whether the method of resolution is arbitration, mediation or expert neutral evaluation. Commercial arbitration is a particular feature of the group’s activities, whether under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the English Arbitration Acts or otherwise. In conducting arbitrations in London and Bermuda, in particular, our attorneys provide clients with the benefit of firsthand knowledge of those jurisdictions. Complex coverage work for insurance and reinsurance clients and expertise in international employment law are also part of the Sedgwick international service. With offices in Bermuda, London and Paris, in addition to those in the United States, our attorneys offer local and international expertise to our clients, wherever in the world they may be situated.
Life, Health & Disability
The lawyers who work on life, health and disability matters regularly provide counseling and handle litigated disputes involving all aspects of life, health and disability insurance. We represent insurers in the defense of claims made under ERISA-qualified plans, particularly in the areas of long-term disability insurance, vigorously defending our clients’ interests in federal courts throughout the United States. Our attorneys provide comprehensive analyses of the sufficiency of plan decisions to deny benefits, and very often are able to resolve such disputes on summary judgment. In addition to our extensive ERISA practice, we provide counseling and aggressive defense to our clients on non-ERISA insurance matters, including life insurance, health insurance and disability insurance issues. Our attorneys litigate claims alleging policy breach and breaches of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, as well as disputes between insurers.
Sedgwick’s extensive insurance background uniquely positions the firm’s managed care attorneys investigate, analyze, strategize and litigate healthcare disputes. We represent our healthcare clients in litigation matters and advise them in their various activities, including labor and employment compliance with standard federal regulations, and business transactions. Our attorneys collaborate with many clients to draft insurance claims guidelines and policy language to underwrite the new world of managed care, which provides a major advantage when disputes arise.
Sedgwick attorneys in Bermuda, Europe and the United States have drafted everything from manuscripted policies for global companies to homeowners’ insurance forms. Our attorneys work with underwriters extending innovative coverage for unusual risks such as credit reporting errors and omissions, songwriters and music publisher programs, model captive reinsurance agreements, charity and pension trustee risks, IPO risks and “after the event” contingency policies. In addition to drafting contract forms and endorsements, our experienced insurance attorneys also assist clients to vet their more innovative products, examining them with an eye toward clarity and enforceability, using our in-depth knowledge of some of the more difficult forums for insurance clients. Similarly, our attorneys develop policy language or vet existing products for some of the most challenging risks, including many forms of directors and officers coverage, nursing home policies, sexual abuse cover, cyber risk cover, construction defect cover, IP cover, terrorism and the restructuring/merger/breakup of policyholders.
For years, professionals and their insurers have turned to Sedgwick’s professional liability lawyers for advice and representation. This practice, which is international in scope, includes all the services that solution-oriented attorneys should provide to professionals and their insurers: policy drafting and interpretation, counseling and advice, loss prevention, representation in litigation and dispute resolution. Our attorneys provide coverage advice for professional liability insurers on all types of errors and omissions coverage. The firm’s defense work includes advising and defending attorneys, accountants, design professionals, architects and engineers, real estate agents and brokers, insurance agents and brokers, certified financial planners, investment advisors, registered representatives, security broker-dealers, doctors and other professionals in claims involving professional liability insurance. We represent insureds ranging from national organizations to sole practitioners.
Sedgwick’s property attorneys regularly provide coverage advice, counseling and litigation services for primary and excess commercial property insurers and reinsurers. Our attorneys advise on many complex first-party policy coverage issues important to the insurance industry, including claims arising from such diverse perils as fire and terrorism, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters, water damage and mold. The group also has experience assisting clients in investigating and resolving business income, contingent business income and extra expense claims and in conducting fraud and arson investigations. These matters have included numerous disputes stemming from major hurricanes, floods and other catastrophes in various international locations.
Our attorneys counsel both property/casualty and life/health insurers on regulatory issues such as compliance, rate making, enforcement actions, insurance company mergers and acquisitions and affiliate transactions. Sedgwick attorneys also provide clients with ongoing analysis of changes to insurance regulations and represent insurance companies in private attorney general, business practices and class action litigation. Much of our insurance regulatory practice involves the representation of clients before state insurance authorities. These matters include contested rate hearings, rule-making proceedings, and marketing, underwriting and claims practices enforcement matters. Many of our health insurer clients also offer managed care products, and Sedgwick provides advice concerning the regulations governing managed care operations.
Sedgwick’s reinsurance lawyers are located in the United States, Bermuda and Europe and have extensive experience in providing legal assistance to cedants, reinsurers and intermediaries in reinsurance matters of all kinds, both national and international. The firm’s reinsurance practice encompasses the world’s major reinsurance markets. Sedgwick’s international lawyers have expertise in all aspects of European and Bermuda reinsurance practices and procedures and have arbitrated cases in various markets abroad. Likewise, Sedgwick has broad experience in the United States representing and advising domestic cedants and reinsurers, as well as foreign reinsurers whose U.S.-based business has led to disputes requiring resolution in court or arbitration. Sedgwick lawyers in the United States, Bermuda and Europe have been closely involved with reinsurers in the establishment of reserves for loss portfolios and individual large losses, in conducting in-depth claims reviews and file inspections in various lines of business, and in drafting provisions for facultative and treaty wordings. They have also guided the firm’s reinsurance clients toward achieving many successful commutations.
Surety bonds play a major role in American commerce and in the construction industry. For more than 30 years, surety companies have relied upon surety law experts at Sedgwick for the most complex and high-risk matters. As a national and international leader in managing the complex issues facing bonding companies, Sedgwick’s surety attorneys counsel and defend sureties in negotiations, mediations, arbitrations and litigation in local, state and federal jurisdictions, including the bankruptcy courts. Sedgwick’s surety law expertise extends beyond performance, payment, bid and release bonds in construction to commercial, subdivision, license and miscellaneous bonds. Our attorneys can also draw on Sedgwick experts on E&O and CGL policies, in addition to other insurance resources, to find ways to shift risks from our surety clients to others.
Sedgwick attorneys have represented clients in connection with a variety of insurance company mergers and acquisitions, including acquisitions by stock purchase agreement, mergers, acquisitions of publicly traded insurers, demutualizations in connection with acquisitions, reinsurance and assumption agreements in connection with sales of affiliated entities and other transaction structures. Our attorneys have also handled surplus note pooling and other insurer financing transactions. Sedgwick also has expertise in insurance holding company system restructurings, drafting intercompany reinsurance, management and other forms of agreements and in securing regulatory approvals for intercompany transactions with novel features. Sedgwick’s deep industry knowledge and expertise combined with sophisticated corporate transactional experience allows us to provide clients with an integrated team of attorneys who can address our insurer clients’ transactional and regulatory needs in a seamless fashion.