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Heyl Royster

 

Practices

INSURANCE SERVICES

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Insurance companies can encounter a variety of difficult scenarios in which they could benefit from the perspective of outside counsel who are experienced in insurance law and who have a sensitivity to issues that are unique to insurance carriers. The circumstances requiring the retention of outside counsel can include:

  • First-party property investigations and litigation (including potential fraud investigations)
  • Coverage advice and litigation
  • Extra-contractual litigation
  • Interpleader litigation
  • Claims handling counseling

These scenarios are also applicable to a wide variety of policies, such as CGL policies, farm policies, personal and commercial automobile policies, homeowners policies, landlord and renters policies, trucking policies, directors and officers liability policies, professional liability policies, and others – and a broad range of experience over many types of policies is often helpful, if not essential.

Heyl Royster has been a trusted advocate for insurers for decades, and our attorneys have extensive experience representing carriers and guiding them through all types of matters – large and small, from simple to complex. Over the years, we have evaluated, handled, and tried innumerable first-party property claims involving fires, natural disasters, arson, fraud, and a myriad of other circumstances that confront insurers in these types of claims.

We routinely provide carriers with experienced coverage advice, and we have prosecuted declaratory judgment actions encompassing a wide array of coverage questions, such as the interpretation of insuring agreements, exclusions, additional-insured endorsements, and all other parts of insurance policies. Our attorneys are frequently called upon to provide a vigorous defense to often challenging, extra-contractual claims, whether the claim is couched in terms of breach of contract, fraud, consumer fraud, bad faith failure to settle, civil conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, or vexatious and unreasonable conduct. We counsel insurers on claims handling, and represent them in cases alleging improper claim practices, which can involve the thorny intersection of common law insurance law principles and the regulatory obligations applicable to carriers.

Representative Clients

Auto-Owners Insurance Company

Central Insurance Company

Cincinnati Insurance Company

Country Financial

Erie Insurance Group

General Casualty Insurance Company

LaPrairie Mutual Insurance Company

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

MetLife Insurance Company

Progressive Insurance Company

Rockford Mutual Insurance Company

State Farm Insurance Companies

Western States Insurance Company

Westfield Insurance Company

Significant Cases

  • Ms. B v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of Tazewell County, Illinois (2017) Plaintiffs’ insurance policy lapsed after failing to make timely premium payments. Twenty-one hours after the policy had lapsed, a fire destroyed plaintiffs’ home. Plaintiffs paid their insurance premiums immediately following the fire. The defendant insurer advised the insured that the policy was not in force on the day of the fire and refunded a portion of the premium. Plaintiffs filed suit for breach of contract and bad faith against the insurer and agent. The agent was quickly dismissed from the suit. Plaintiffs argued that there were issues of waiver and that the insurer had a pattern and practice of accepting late payments without a disruption in coverage. Alternatively, plaintiffs argued that they made advanced premium payments, therefore the cancellation was improper. The court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
  • Mr. Z v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of Peoria County, Illinois (2016) An insured claimed that his pipe had burst in his rental property causing a significant loss. The insurer denied the claim after learning that the insured had failed to maintain heat and/or winterize the pipes as required by the insurance policy. The insured offered several new theories for the loss which were ultimately proven false by testimony of various witnesses and utility providers. As a result, summary judgment was granted by the trial court finding that the policy exclusion applied and that the insurance company did not act in bad faith.
  • Reeder v. Auto Owners Ins. Co. 2016 IL App (3d) 150252-U Obtained summary judgment in favor of Auto Owners in a case where plaintiffs claimed they were entitled to coverage under an insurance policy issued to the prior owner of car. The firm also argued the case before the Third District Appellate Court, which affirmed the trial court's order, holding that following the sale of the car, the prior owners had no insurable interest in the vehicle. In addition, the court found that the omnibus clause of the policy could not be interpreted as offering coverage to the purchasers of the car.
  • Demond v. Ameriprise Insurance Company 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32616 (S.D. Ill., March 17, 2015): Court granted summary judgment in favor of two insurers on plaintiff’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress finding that the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence of the “extreme” mental distress necessary to support the cause of action.
  • Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London v. Central Mutual Insurance 2014 IL App (1st) 133145 - Representation of Central Mutual Insurance Company (Central) and its insured (Subcontractor) in a case in which the general contractor (Builder) and its insurer, Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London (Underwriters) claimed that Central should have been the primary insurer in regard to coverage for severe personal injuries that allegedly occurred to a worker at a home construction site. The dispute arose because, although the subcontractor was contractually obligated to maintain insurance for the builder, the subcontractor agreement was silent as to whether this additional coverage was to be primary or excess. At the trial court level, the firm succeeded in getting Underwriter's declaratory action dismissed on motion for summary judgment, and Underwriters appealed. On appeal, the first district agreed with the firm in holding that Central's insurance would be considered excess and there would be no duty to defend or indemnify unless the primary limits were exceeded.
  • Insurance Company v. Mr. & Mrs. S Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Illinois (2014): After insureds were sued for injuries to a foster child living in their residence, they sought a defense to the claim under their homeowners’ insurance. We were retained by the homeowner’s insurer and filed a declaratory judgment, arguing that the injury to insured exclusion of the policy precluded coverage because the foster child was a resident of the insured’s household. After discovery and the submission of cross-motions for summary judgment, the circuit court entered judgment in the homeowner insurer’s favor, finding that it had no duty to defend the insureds.
  • Velazquez v. Progressive Northern Insurance Company 2011 IL App (5th) 100444-U: Illinois Appellate Court for the Fifth District affirmed dismissal of a Section 155 claim against an insurer on the grounds that the plaintiff did not have standing to bring the Section 155 claim. In doing so, the Appellate Court reaffirmed the general rule that only an insured or an insured’s assignee has standing to bring a Section 155 claim.
  • Insurance Company v. Mr. & Mrs. W Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Illinois (2011): After insureds were sued by their child for injuries stemming from abuse to their child by a family acquaintance, they sought a defense to the claim under their homeowners policy. We were retained by the insurer and filed a declaratory judgment action, asserting that the injury to insured exclusion precluded coverage. After filing a summary judgment motion, the insurer entered judgment in the insurer’s favor, finding that it had no duty to defend the insureds.
  • Hobbs v. Hartford Ins. Co. of the Midwest, 214 Ill. 2d 11 (2005) The statement: "If a premium charge does not appear, that coverage is not provided" appearing on an insurance policy declarations sheet does not address the issue of stacking and cannot reasonably be read as contradictory to the antistacking clause in the policy. The policy must be construed as a whole.
  • Yacko v. Curtis 339 Ill. App. 3d 299 (4th Dist. 2003) Upholding insurer's cancellation of automobile insurance policy for nonpayment.
  • General Casualty Ins. Co. v. Lacey 199 Ill. 2d 281 (2002) The validity of an exhaustion clause was governed by the law in effect at the time of issuance of the policy, not settlement with the liability insurer.
  • B. v. Insurance Company Circuit Court of Rock Island County, Illinois (2001): Successful defense at jury trial of alleged breach of contract claim in which insurer asserted material misrepresentation and arson defenses.
  • Roberts v. Northland Ins. Co. 185 Ill. 2d 262 (1998) In a claim against a primary and excess insurer, the court held that the insured was entitled to only one setoff for the insured's workers' compensation benefits; that the primary insurer was entitled to take the workers' compensation setoff first, after which any remainder could be taken by the excess insurer; and that public policy precluded either insurer from taking a setoff for the insured's social security disability benefits.
  • T.H.E. Insurance v. City of Alton 227 F.3d 802 (7th Cir. 2000) Whether a certificate of insurance can modify the language contained in the policy of insurance.
  • Cramer v. Insurance Exchange Agency 174 Ill. 2d 513 (1996) Held: Although an insurer's conduct may give rise to both a breach of contract action and a separate and independent tort action mere allegations of bad faith or unreasonable and vexatious conduct, without more, do not constitute such a tort.
  • General Cas. Co. of Illinois v. Juhl 283 Ill. App. 3d 376 (4th Dist. 1996) A 7-1/2 month delay on the part of the insured in notifying the excess insurer of a possible excess verdict against the insured was not notice given "promptly" as required by the insurance policy, and as a matter of law such delay was unreasonable and nullified the policy.
  • Calvert Ins. Co. v. Western Ins. Co. 874 F.2d 396 (7th Cir. 1989) Insurance coverage issue as to whether general liability insurer had to reimburse excess carrier for expenses excess carrier incurred in defending police officers and city in civil rights litigation arising from arrest.
  • Hartford v. Gulf 837 F.2d 767 (7th Cir. 1988) Interpretation of conflicting additional insured clauses in insurance policies.
  • Prudential Property & Cas. Ins. v. Scott 161 Ill. App. 3d 372 (4th Dist. 1987) Interpretation and application of a family exclusion clause in an automobile insurance policy.

Publications

  • “An Examination of Reasonableness Requirements for Settlements by Insureds: Central Mutual Insurance Company v. Tracy’s Treasures, Inc.,” Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2018) - Download Article
  • “Survey of Insurance Law Cases,” Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel’s 2016 Survey of Law (2017)
  • “Settling Without Consent: The When and The How,” FDCC Insights, A Journal for Defense and Corporate Counsel (2016) - Download Article
  • "Additional Limits to the Targeted Tender Doctrine: AMCO Insurance Co. v. Cincinnati Insurance Co.," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2015) - Download Article
  • "Intentional Act Exclusion," chapter in Commercial and Professional Liability Insurance Practice Handbook, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education Handbook (2014)
  • "Survey of Insurance Law Cases," Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel's 2013 Survey of Law (2014) - Download Article
  • "Unintended Consequences of Additional Insured Endorsements: Coverage for an Additional Insured Where the Claim Arose from the Named Insured's Professional Services," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (2013) - Download Article
  • "In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time: Defense Counsel as Ethically Challenged or Merely in a Position where Appearance of Impropriety Exists when Insurer and Insured have Conflict of Interest?" Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly Monograph (2012) - Download Article
  • "Bankruptcy and Insured versus Insured Exclusions Did Not Apply to Claims by Trustee against Company Directors," IDC Defense Update, Vol. 12, No. 15 (2011) - Download Article
  • "Equitable Subrogation and Reimbursement Did Not Apply to a Self-Insured Municipality," IDC Defense Update, Vol. 12, No. 15 (2011) - Download Article
  • "Amount of Coverage for Series of Related Legal Malpractice Claims Limited to 'Each Claim' Limit of Liability," IDC Defense Update, Vol. 12, No. 15 (2011) - Download Article
  • "Insurance Law Update," Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (2005)
  • "Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Arbitration: Don't Be Put Off by Setoffs," DuPage County Bar Association Brief (2001)
  • "Americans with Disabilities Act: Will Insurance Carriers Pay?" The International Journal of Insurance Law (1996)
  • "Extracontractual Damages in First-Party Property Insurance Claims," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1996) - Download Article
  • "Insurance Fraud Statute," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly (1993)
  • "What Duties are Owed to an Excess Insurer by Sophisticated Self-Insured," ABA Tort & Insurance Law Journal (1993)
  • "Litigating Environmental and Toxic Tort Coverage Claims" chapter, Business Liability Insurance: Litigation, Arbitration and Settlement, Butterworth Legal Publishers (1993)
  • "'Gone With the Wind' Unintended Coverage: Waiver or Estoppel," Heyl Royster (1992)
  • "Other Insurance" chapter in multi-volume treatise Insurance Coverage Litigation published by the West Group
  • "Survey of Illinois Law: Insurance," Southern Illinois University Law Journal
  • "How Much Room Under the Umbrella - An Examination of Ancillary Insurance Relationships," Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly Monograph