Risk Insider: Peter Taffae

Excess Follow Form? The Problem

By: | August 23, 2016 • 3 min read
Peter R. Taffae, is managing director of ExecutivePerils, a national wholesale broker. He can be reached at [email protected]

Imagine a $100 million D&O (or E&O, EPL, Cyber) program made up of 10 insurance companies each providing a $10 million limit. The market standard dictates that each insurer use its own “excess follow form.”

Shortly after the CEO is briefed that his company has secured $100 million “state of the art” D&O program, a securities class action is filed, followed by parallel derivative litigation. The litigation progresses and ultimately the Insured resolves the litigation costing $70 million (defense and settlement).

During the litigation process, the insurance companies on the program reserved their rights each referencing provisions of their excess policies. Now that the insured seeks to collect on the insurance, one by one each Insurer sites a provision that is different than the primary and underlying Insurers. It may be the definition of Insureds, or different Reporting Provisions, or even differences in the Insuring Clauses.

Reality sets in and the CEO finds out that the “state of the art” $100 million D&O program Is not state of the art and has inherited numerous obstacles.

This scenario is not imagined. Despite the name, “excess follow form” policies do not completely follow the primary policy’s wording. Although the differences might seem small at the time of binding they can have significant consequences at the time of a claim.

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Qualcomm, Inc. v. Certain underwriters at Lloyd’s London, 161 Cal. App. 4th 184, 73 Cal. Rptr. 3d 770 (ct.App, 4th Dist. 2008) is a clear example why it is necessary to have true follow form excess wording.

AIG wrote Qualcomm’s primary D&O policy with $20 million limit, followed by a Lloyd’s excess “follow form” policy. After incurring $28 million in defense and indemnity, Qualcomm sought insurance recovery for the loss.

Despite the name, “excess follow form” policies do not completely follow the primary policy’s wording. Although the differences might seem small at the time of binding they can have significant consequences at the time of a claim.

Qualcomm settled a coverage dispute with AIG for $16 million (AIG’s policy has a $20 million limit). Lloyd’s refused to pay anything towards the $28 million because Lloyd’s “excess follow form” policy included a provision stating: “underwriter shall be liable only after Insurer(s) under each Underlying Policies have paid or been held liable to pay the full amount of the Underlying Limit of Liability”. Qualcomm sued and the court held in favor of Lloyd’s.

This is a clear example how “excess follow form” policies are not. Or as some would say “Excess Policies Matter.”

Another example of an “excess follow form” myth, is the arbitration provision that is in each policy.

Most D&O (E&O, EPL, and Cyber) policies require coverage disputes to be resolved by arbitration. Remember our $100 million D&O program with 10 insurers? The primary policy requires AAA arbitration in the laws of New York, the first excess may require that resolution be in London under the Arbitration Act of 1996, the next layer require may require arbitration under the laws of Bermuda, and so on.

Not only do these inconsistencies require different venues for resolution, but it is also likely that each arbitration location could have different results, thus compounding an already serious problem.

Hopefully, we can all agree that “excess follow form” policies are not excess follow form policies. Insureds need to recognize that not all excess programs are the same and there is a need to place significant importance on all the contractual wordings, not simply the primary.

I’ve now presented you with the problem. In my next post I’ll discuss the solution.

2017 RIMS

RIMS Conference Opens in Birthplace of Insurance in US

Carriers continue their vital role of helping insureds mitigate risks and promote safety.
By: | April 21, 2017 • 4 min read

As RIMS begins its annual conference in Philadelphia, it’s worth remembering that the City of Brotherly Love is not just the birthplace of liberty, but it is the birthplace of insurance in the United States as well.

In 1751, Benjamin Franklin and members of Philadelphia’s first volunteer fire brigade conceived of an insurance company, eventually named The Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire.

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For the first time in America — but certainly not for the last time – insurers became instrumental in protecting businesses by requiring safety inspections before agreeing to issue policies.

“That included fire brigades and the knowledge that a brick house was less susceptible to fire than a wood house,” said Martin Frappolli, director of knowledge resources at The Institutes.

It also included good hygiene habits, such as not placing oily rags next to a furnace and having a trap door to the roof to help the fire brigade fight roof and chimney blazes.

Businesses with high risk of fire, such as apothecary shops and brewers, were either denied policies or insured at significantly higher rates, according to the Independence Hall Association.

Robert Hartwig, co-director, Center of Risk and Uncertainty Management at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina

Before that, fire was generally “not considered an insurable risk because it was so common and so destructive,” Frappolli said.

“Over the years, we have developed a lot of really good hygiene habits regarding the risk of fire and a lot of those were prompted by the insurance considerations,” he said. “There are parallels in a lot of other areas.”

Insurance companies were instrumental in the creation of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which helps create standards for electrical devices, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which works to improve the safety of vehicles and highways, said Robert Hartwig, co-director, Center of Risk and Uncertainty Management at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina and former president of the Insurance Information Institute.

Insurers have also been active through the years in strengthening building codes and promoting wiser land use and zoning rules, he said.

When shipping was the predominant mode of commercial transport, insurers were active in ports, making sure vessels were seaworthy, captains were experienced and cargoes were stored safety, particularly since it was the common, but hazardous, practice to transport oil in barrels, Hartwig said.

Some underwriters refused to insure ships that carried oil, he said.

When commercial enterprises engaged in hazardous activities and were charged more for insurance, “insurers were sending a message about risk,” he said.

In the industrial area, the common risk of boiler and machinery explosions led insurers to insist on inspections. “The idea was to prevent an accident from occurring,” Hartwig said. Insurers of the day – and some like FM Global and Hartford Steam Boiler continue to exist today — “took a very active and early role in prevention and risk management.”

Whenever insurance gets involved in business, the emphasis on safety, loss control and risk mitigation takes on a higher priority, Frappolli said.

“It’s a really good example of how consideration for insurance has driven the nature of what needs to be insured and leads to better and safer habits,” he said.

Workers’ compensation insurance prompted the same response, he said. When workers’ compensation laws were passed in the early 1900s, employee injuries were frequent and costly, especially in factories and for other physical types of work.

Because insurers wanted to reduce losses and employers wanted reduced insurance premiums, safety procedures were introduced.

“Employers knew insurance would cost a lot more if they didn’t do the things necessary to reduce employee injury,” Frappolli said.

Martin J. Frappolli, senior director of knowledge resources, The Institutes

Cyber risk, he said, is another example where insurance companies are helping employers reduce their risk of loss by increasing cyber hygiene.

Cyber risk is immature now, Frappolli said, but it’s similar in some ways to boiler and machinery explosions. “That was once horribly damaging, unpredictable and expensive,” he said. “With prompting from risk management and insurance, people were educated about it and learned how to mitigate that risk.

“Insurance is just one tool in the toolbox. A true risk manager appreciates and cares about mitigating the risk and not just securing a lower insurance rate.

“Someone looking at managing risk for the long term will take a longer view, and as a byproduct, that will lead to lower insurance rates.”

Whenever technology has evolved, Hartwig said, insurance has been instrumental in increasing safety, whether it was when railroads eclipsed sailing ships for commerce, or when trucking and aviation took precedence.

The risks of terrorism and cyber attacks have led insurance companies and brokers to partner with outside companies with expertise in prevention and reduction of potential losses, he said. That knowledge is transmitted to insureds, who are provided insurance coverage that results in financial resources even when the risk management methods fail to prevent a cyber attack.

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This year’s RIMS Conference in Philadelphia shares with risk managers much of the knowledge that has been developed on so many critical exposures. Interestingly enough, the opening reception is at The Franklin Institute, which celebrates some of Ben Franklin’s innovations.

But in-depth sessions on a variety of industry sectors as well as presentations on emerging risks, cyber risk management, risk finance, technology and claims management, as well as other issues of concern help risk managers prepare their organizations to face continuing disruption, and take advantage of successful mitigation techniques.

“This is just the next iteration of the insurance world,” Hartwig said. “The insurance industry constantly reinvents itself. It is always on the cutting edge of insuring new and different risks and that will never change.” &

Anne Freedman is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]