Find out all you can about insurance coverage

Washington court rules allow interrogatory and other discovery of insurance information. I am surprised at the number of lawyers who fail to take advantage of the rule. Knowing the limits and having information about insurance coverage is essential for negotiation and settlement of cases. In jurisidictions where the injured party has the right to obtain insurance information about the coverage owed the defendant one shouldalwaysrequest the information. In some caseswhere a rule like Washington’s exists, a request to an insurance adjustor for information about the insurance even before suit is filed, a refusal can constitute bad faith. If the refusal to provide the information which the plaintiff is entitled to when suit is filed causes plaintiff to file suit to get the information, that can represent an act of bad faith on the part of the insurance company. In addition, there have been frequent occassions where the information provided in answer to the request was wrong. For example, where there was more insurance then what was disclosed or failure to advise about all sources of potential coverage. These incorrect disclosures can create a bad faith claim as well or even a new cause of action if damages were suffered as a result. It is possible that even where there is no rule or decision requiring disclosure of insurance information, a refusal of a request for such information might still be grounds for a motion or a bad faith claim or other action. It doesn’t do any harm to ask for it.

Where allowed, the plaintiff should always take advantage of the right to demand insurance coverage information. In some jurisidictions there are limitations on the number of interrogatories or other restrictions that should be examined before submitting an interrogatory.Here is an example of a section to be inserted in interrogatories to a defendant askign for insurance information:

THE FOLLOWING INTERROGATORIES ARE INTENDED TO REQUEST FULL DISCLOSURE OF ALL INFORMATION ABOUT ANY INSURANCE COVERAGE WHICH DOES OR MAY APPLY TO THIS CASE REGARDING THE NAMED DEFENDNATS

1.11 As provided in CR 26, Is there any insurance agreement which may be liable to satisfy in whole or in part any judgment which may be entered in this action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy such judgment? If so, state:

(1) The full and correct name of each such insurance company

(2) The insurance policy number for each company policy

(3) The maximum limit of insurance provided by each such policy

(4) The name and address of the person having custody of the policies

(5) Whether defense costs are deducted from the coverage provided

11.12 If your answer to the previous question was affirmative, is there more then one policy of insurance? If so, explain the nature of the coverage provided. In particular state as follows:

(1) Which policy or policies provide primary insurance coverage and which provide additional or excess coverage?

(2) The dollar amount of coverage for each policy

11.13 Was this defendant an employee, stockholder, partner of any entity not named in this action at the time of treatment to plaintiff by defendant?

11.14 If your answer to the previous question was affirmative, was there an insurance agreement which might be liable to satisfy in whole or in part any judgment which may be entered in this action or to idemnity or reimburse for payments made to satisfy such judgment in the event the entity was a party to this action? If so, state:

(1) The full and correct name of each such insurance company

(2) The insurance policy number for each company policy

(3) The maximum limit of insurance provided by each such policy

(4) The name and address of the person having custody of the policies

(5) Whether defense costs are deducted from the coverage provided

11.15 If your answer to the previous question was affirmative, is there more then one policy of insurance? If so, explain the nature of the coverage provided. In particular state as follows:

(1) Which policy or policies provide primary insurance coverage and which provide additional or excess coverage?

(2) The dollar amount of coverage for each policy

11.16 Has this defendant received notice from any of the above insurance companies that they reserve the right to question any aspect of the applicability of the insurance policy to the facts of this case? If so, state:

(1) Which companies

(2) The reasons given

11.17 Are there any insurance agreements which may or could be liable to satisfy in whole or in part any judgment which might be rendered in this matter against this defendant or to idemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy such judgment which have not been disclosed?

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