Practice Areas

Insurance Coverage Disputes

When an insurance company has denied or delayed payment of valid claims for coverage benefits under an insurance policy, the firm’s insurance attorneys assist and represent corporate and individual policyholders in working to obtain or maximize their available insurance coverage. We work with policyholders to try and recover insurance for many different types of claims, including bodily injury and property damage claims, construction defect claims, property and business interruption losses, environmental claims, employment claims, directors and officers, professional errors and omissions claims, general liability claims and many other types of coverage issues. The firm’s insurance attorneys have successfully represented policyholders in disputes with their insurance companies in California state and federal court at both the trial court and appellate court level, as well as in arbitrations and mediations.

Coverage Disputes in Construction Litigation

In construction litigation today, it is no secret that insurance coverage, or the lack thereof, plays an even more pivotal role than it has in the past. One of the reasons is that in the last 10 years the insurance coverage generally being provided by insurance companies to contractors and subcontractors is more restrictive coverage than in the past. This has become even more complicated with the more frequent involvement of Contractor Controlled Insurance Programs (CCIP) or Owner Control Insurance Programs, often referred to as Wraps or Wrap-Up policies. The actions taken early on by a policyholder may significantly impact the outcome of an insurance coverage dispute. Accordingly, it is even more important that policyholders contact an attorney with experience in insurance coverage to advise them as early as possible. The insurance attorneys at Wilke Fleury are well known for successfully obtaining coverage for clients when the client’s insurance company has originally initially denied coverage and/or refused to provide a defense to a lawsuit.

Independent Counsel/Cumis Counsel

Cumis Counsel is a term used to refer to an independent attorney employed by a policyholder who has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit and there is an insurance policy that has agreed to defend the claim, but there is a conflict of interest between the insurance company and its policyholder. The name Cumis counsel derives from a California appellate case titled, San Diego Federal Credit Union v. Cumis Ins. Soc’y, (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d 358, which found that the insurance company was obligated to provide the policyholder with independent counsel, paid for by the insurer, because of a conflict that arose from the coverage position taken by the insurer concerning the claims being made in that case. Generally an insurance company has the right to appoint its own attorney to defend the insured. However, when the insurance company reserves its rights to deny coverage, should certain facts arise that would preclude coverage under a policy term or exclusion, the policyholder may have the right to pick its own defense attorney paid for by the insurance company. The firm’s insurance attorneys are very experienced in dealing with the law and legal issues related to a policyholder’s right to independent counsel under Civil Code Section 2860 and the cases that interpret that statute and the decision in the Cumis case.