Imagine if the plaintiffs in PI and Mass Tort cases not only knew the defendants’ total insurance coverage limits but also knew how much money was available for their specific claim. Imagine if the plaintiffs had copies of the defendants’ insurance policies. If that is not enough, imagine if the plaintiffs received updates from the defendants about the then-current amount of available insurance. At a minimum, the information would inform plaintiffs’ counsel about the amount to include in a demand letter (AcroDocz’s services include demand letter preparation) or the amount to seek during settlement negotiations. It would also have an impact on decisions made during the litigation of a case, such as whether to move forward with a trial and obtain a verdict in excess of policy limits.
On December 31, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act. The Act substantially broadened New York’s law regarding disclosure of the existence and content of an insurance policy, and now mandates that within 60 days of filing its Answer, a defendant must provide:
- Proof of “the existence and contents of any insurance agreement under which any person or entity may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment that may be entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the entry of the final judgment.”
- All primary, excess and umbrella policies.
- A complete copy of all policies (including declarations, conditions and exclusions).
- A copy of the application for insurance.
- The contact information of the matter’s adjuster or third-party administrator and the person within the insuring entity to whom the TPA is required to report.
- The amounts still available under the insurance policy to satisfy, or reimburse for, the judgment.
- Detailed information that identifies any lawsuits that have reduced or eroded the limits of any available insurance.
- Information about the amount of any payment of attorneys’ fees that have reduced or eroded the limits of any available insurance.
These obligations apply to any defendant, third-party defendant or defendant on a cross-claim or counter-claim, and are “ongoing”, so that the defendant must make “reasonable efforts” to ensure that the information remains accurate and complete by providing “updated information” within 30 days of receiving new information. The “ongoing” obligations exist during the entire case and even after; it lasts for 60 days after any settlement or entry of final judgment, including any appeal.
The new Act makes New York an advantageous venue to bring a PI or Mass Tort case. It may lead to New York being the venue of choice if it is one of several states that has jurisdiction over the parties.
AcroDocz provides services to personal injury and Mass Tort law firms. If you have any questions about AcroDocz’s services, including the retrieval of medical records and bills, the review and summary of medical records and bills, and draft demand letter preparation, please reach out to AcroDocz at (786) 633-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.