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The Biggest Insurance Rulings of 2017: Midyear Report

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The first half of 2017 was rife with major insurance law rulings, with the Texas Supreme Court issuing key guidance on the requirements for maintaining statutory claims against insurers for deceptive practices, and with Washington's high court limiting policyholders' ability to sue for bad faith and curtailing carriers' capacity to rely on policy exclusions.

Here, Law360 examines five significant insurance decisions that have attracted widespread attention so far this year.

USAA Texas Lloyd's Co. v. Menchaca


By more clearly setting out the prerequisites for claims under the Insurance Code, the Texas high court's ruling could have the effect of bringing insurers to the negotiating table earlier on in some cases, attorneys say.

"This ruling will ensure that insurer can't get around the protections established by the Texas Insurance Code by making a settlement payment on the eve of trial," said Blank Rome LLP associate Omid Safa.

R.T. Vanderbilt Co. v. Hartford


Another aspect of the panel's ruling that is sure to stimulate further litigation is the holding, as a matter of national first impression, that the "occupational disease" exclusions in some of Vanderbilt's policies preclude coverage both for claims brought by the company's own workers and claims by workers at other companies in Vanderbilt's supply chain, according to attorneys.

"The decision on the occupational disease exclusion is pretty surprising," Safa said. "This is an issue we can expect to hear more about from the Connecticut Supreme Court."

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"The Biggest Insurance Rulings of 2017: Midyear Report," by Jeff Sistrunk was published in Law360 on June 16, 2017.