Practice Areas & Industries: Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP


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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Wilson Elser’s Professional Liability practice maintains a strong emphasis on representing insurance agents and brokers. For more than 30 years, Wilson Elser has litigated and arbitrated disputes throughout the United States involving both domestic and foreign insurance agents and brokers, in all lines of coverage, from the most basic life insurance placement to the most complex reinsurance treaty. Well recognized in this area, the firm boasts a large, national team of attorneys with broad experience in the business practices of all types of insurance intermediaries, including brokers at every level in the broking process, from producers to managing general agents to London Market brokers. Our attorneys’ vast knowledge of the insurance industry results in effective analysis of the agency relationships between and among the parties and an aggressive defense plan targeted at quick dismissals wherever possible. We have defended against a broad array of claims and obtained successful dismissals through trials, voluntary dismissals, summary judgments and other dispositive motions, arbitrations and appeals.

Our attorneys’ vast knowledge of the insurance industry results in effective analysis of the agency relationships between and among the parties and an aggressive defense plan targeted at quick dismissals wherever possible.

In addition to protecting insurance agents and brokers and their errors and omissions insurers in the event of claims, Wilson Elser enhances our extensive loss prevention services through educational seminars, including mock trials and CE-eligible training, telephone hotlines and deep involvement in insurance industry organizations. Articles authored by Wilson Elser partners on subjects related to insurance agents’ and brokers’ loss prevention are in demand by trade journals and industry newsletters.

Our experience includes claims asserted against brokers for losses arising from natural catastrophes such as fires, earthquakes, floods and hurricanes, as well as man-made catastrophic losses that have affected credit markets, real estate values and every aspect of insurable risks. We draw on the resources and experience of the entire firm in responding to the complete spectrum of coverage issues, including property, casualty, life and all forms of third-party liability policies. Our track record is impeccable and our clients’ satisfaction with the results is apparent from their loyalty and the growth that we enjoy in this area of our practice.

Wilson Elser represents insurance agents and brokers before state licensing, regulatory and disciplinary boards. We assist with all aspects of this responsibility from ensuring that initial licensing requirements are met to defending agents and brokers against serious disciplinary charges that can place their licenses at risk.

We also serve as national coordinating counsel for broker clients, and in that role we select experienced and competent local representatives, coordinate defense activities, share our wealth of knowledge and experience, and manage nationwide defense and claims resolution to ensure a consistently high-quality defense. Our firm’s experience in representing agents and brokers in liability matters has resulted in the acquisition of an extensive network of expert consultants we can access for advice, consultation or expert witnesses services.

Business/Transactional Services
In addition to broker and agent licensing and regulatory matters, Wilson Elser represents brokerage firms in myriad business transactions and disputes, from formations to combinations to separations to winding down, and everything along this continuum.

Agents and brokers are increasingly subject to employment disputes that are unique to their profession, or nearly so, such as alleged breaches of commission-sharing agreements, sub-brokerage or production contracts, indemnification clauses in agency appointments and other contractual matters. Wilson Elser can help insurance firms avoid and resolve these disputes.

The insurance industry is increasing its online presence to reach the public. Websites, social media, blogs and online application processes present new business opportunities, which Wilson Elser assists brokerage firms and agencies in realizing. Along with the opportunities come potentially serious risks, which we help them avoid. A single blog posting that inadvertently misstates the scope of coverage under a policy may reach hundreds of policyholders. Inadvertent disclosure of a customer’s “personally identifiable” information in an email may breach his or her privacy rights. Website content may improperly use a person’s or an entity’s intellectual property.

The virtual world can be a dangerous place. Wilson Elser helps make it safer for our clients.

Group Presentations
  Mock Trial and Presentation on Surplus Line Broker Ethics , May 12, 2013
Changing Discovery Practices in This Media Age, January 10, 2013
Articles Authored by Lawyers at this office:

Illinois Appeals Court Rejects Application of Absolute Pollution Exclusion to Claim for Unpleasant Odors Emanating from Hog Farm Manure
Loren S. Cohen,Jacob R. Graham,Carl J. Pernicone, January 03, 2014
In Country Mutual Insurance Company v. Hilltop View, LLC, 2013 IL App (4th) 130124, an intermediate Illinois appeals court held that the absolute pollution exclusion in an umbrella policy did not preclude coverage for a claim by neighbors for unpleasant manure odors arising out of the...

New Jersey Court of Appeals: Discovery Related to Bad Faith Claims Should Be Stayed Pending Resolution of Insurance Claims for UM/UIM Benefits
Kim M. Connor,Thomas F. Quinn, December 20, 2013
On November 21, 2013, in Procopio v. Government Employees Insurance Company, a/k/a and d/b/a GEICO, Docket No. A23-1-12T2, an intermediate New Jersey appeals court held that in a pending uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage case, a policyholder may not file a complaint...

Exclusion Requested by First Named Insured and Contained in the Prior Policy Is Binding on All Named Insureds, Even Those Unaware of the Exclusion
Carl J. Pernicone,Robert E. Rider, December 13, 2013
In Berkhouse v. Great American Assurance Co., Case no. 13-0264, November 22, 2013, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals rejected the argument by an injured party in a third-party declaratory judgment suit that an umbrella policy’s liquor liability exclusion unknown to a named insured...

Everyone Can Find Reasons to Give Thanks for 2013 California Coverage Opinions
Louis H. Castoria, November 28, 2013
Thanksgiving is one day when the whole family gets together and sets aside petty differences to give thanks to the Almighty for the bounty we enjoy.

Duty to Settle Absent a Demand? California Court Says No
Patrick M. Kelly,D. Victoria LaBrie,James A. Stankowski, November 19, 2013
The California Court of Appeal in Reid v. Mercury Insurance Company [(2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 262 (rehearing denied November 6, 2013)] found no California authority “standing for the proposition that there is a duty to settle when there is a claim that is vastly in excess of the policy limits...

Eleventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claim against Insurer for Indemnification or a Defense for a Privacy Claim under a Professional Liability Policy
Richard L. Reiter, November 14, 2013
On October 22, 2013, in The Zodiac Group, Inc. v. Axis Surplus Insurance Co., the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of The Zodiac Group’s (Zodiac’s) claim against its insurer for indemnification or a defense under a...

Court Confirms the Limited Duty of an Insurance Broker to Procure Only Coverage Requested by the Insured
John R. Clifford,Edward P. Garson,Ian A. Stewart, November 11, 2013
Recently, in San Diego Assemblers v. Work Comp for Less Insurance Services, Inc. (October 4, 2013, CA Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District), the court upheld the granting of summary judgment on behalf of a broker on the grounds that it breached no legal duty to its client. The court rejected...

New York Court of Appeals: Vandalism Coverage under “Named Peril” Property Policy Can Apply Even When Malicious Act Is Not Directed at Covered Property
Judith Zuckerman Frantz, November 11, 2013
In a case with broad implications for property owners near construction sites (Georgitsi Realty, LLC v. Penn-Star Insurance Company, No. 156, October 17, 2013), the New York Court of Appeals has opened the door to broad first-party property damage coverage for losses emanating from nearby...

Recent Court Decisions Concerning Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Can Assist Insurers in Defending Regulatory Audits and Future Litigation
William T. Bogaert,Sandy M. McDermott, November 11, 2013
Perhaps the most significant litigation, regulatory and compliance issues facing life insurance companies can be found in the unclaimed property audits, multi-state regulatory settlements and class action lawsuits surrounding unclaimed life insurance benefits. With the assistance of third-party...

A Superstorm Sandy Retrospective: How the Actions of New York Regulators May Shape Responses to Future Natural Disasters
Sandy M. McDermott,Carl J. Pernicone,Frederick J. Pomerantz,Stacey B. Rowland, November 05, 2013
A year after Superstorm Sandy came ashore, the New York Department of Financial Services (Department) issued Circular Letter No 8 of 2013 to inform New York licensed property/casualty insurers of the regulatory standards they should expect to encounter the next time a federal or state disaster...