Select an Area of Practice


Heyl Royster

 

Practices

INSURANCE COVERAGE

PRINT
Success in insurance coverage litigation hinges on understanding both the interpretation of insurance policies and the handling of claims. These key elements pervade every phase of the business from taking the application, through underwriting and policy issuance. The attorneys in our Insurance Coverage Practice understand these elements and the important role they play in risk management. 

Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of insurance and self-insurance, and focused on the wide variety of insurance coverage work, either first-party property damage or liability claims, that can involve: opinions, declaratory judgments, defense of improper or bad faith claims practices, health, life and ERISA litigation, and agent errors and omissions. 

Insurance-related law is evolving and changing at a pace never before experienced. This requires experienced counsel who keep abreast of case law and statutory enactments affecting the law of insurance throughout the nation. Our attorneys play key roles in legislative considerations and appeals on insurance-related topics. They are also active in professional associations that influence the law of insurance, including the American Bar Association, Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, Defense Research Institute, the Illinois State Bar Association, Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, International Association of Defense Counsel and the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys.  

Our lawyers are also experienced in alternative dispute resolution of insurance matters, including uninsured and underinsured motorist claims. Additionally, ADR is often times preferred over jury trials to avoid the perceived bias jurors have against insurers. Our experience with ADR has led to successful resolution of many claims and has resulted in significant savings to our trusted clients. 

The following is a representative sampling of coverage areas where we have experience:

Agent Liability

Auto

Bad Faith Claim Practice

CGL

Dramshop

Employment Practices Liability

Environmental

ERISA

Errors & Omissions

Health, Life & Disability

Home Owners/Tenants

Professional Liability

Property

Third-Party Administrators

Trucking

Underinsured Motorists/Uninsured Motorists

Underwriting and Policy Language

Workers' Compensation/Employers Liability

Representative Clients

Central Insurance Company

Cincinnati Insurance Company

Erie Insurance Company

General Casualty Insurance Company

Insura Property and Casualty Company

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

MetLife Insurance Company

OHIC

Western States Insurance Company

Progressive Insurance Company

Rockford Mutual Insurance Company

State Farm Insurance Company

Westfield Insurance Company

Significant Cases

  • Reeder v. Auto Owners Ins. Co. 2016 IL App (3d) 150252-U The Third District Appellate Court affirmed a trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant in a case where plaintiffs claimed they were entitled to coverage under an insurance policy issued to the prior owner of car. The appellate court found 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.
  • Jeramie Morris as special administrator of the Estate of Kimberly Gregorich, deceased and the Estate of John F. Parrett, IV deceased and Elizabeth Johnson, Individually and as special administrator of the Estate of Inara Parrett, deceased v. Nathan E. Merrill and Martin Co. Excavating Truck driver ran stop sign resulting in deaths of 18 month old child, child's father and child's grandmother. The child's mother survived, but suffered various injuries. Retained by insurance carrier to help navigate through potential bad faith issues. Complex pre-suit investigation with numerous issues explored, ultimately resulting in favorable settlement at mediation within our case evaluation.
  • 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.
  • T.H.E. Insurance v. City of Alton 277 F.3d 802 (7th Cir. 2000) Whether a certificate of insurance can modify the language contained in the policy of insurance.
  • Successfully defended national insurer from claims that it was primarily liable for the damages following a multi-million dollar fire to a restaurant; successfully argued that another insurer's coverage was primary.
  • Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London v. Central Mutual Insurance 2014 IL App (1st) 133145 (2014) 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Armstrong v. Guigler 174 Ill. 2d 281 (1996) Held that a claim for breach of implied fiduciary duty is independent of and only incidental to the written contract and, as a result, the residual, five year statute of limitations applied.
  • 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.
  • Roberts v. Northland Ins. Co. 185 Ill. 2d 262 (1999) 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.
  • 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.
  • Hobbs v. Hartford Ins. Co. 214 Ill. 2d 11 (2005) Client victory when Illinois Appellate Court (Second District) ruled that no ambiguity existed in auto policy that would allow for stacking of insurance coverage.
  • Yacko v. Curtis 339 Ill. App. 3d 299 (4th Dist. 2003) Upholding insurer's cancellation of automobile insurance policy for nonpayment.
  • Czimer’s Exotic Game Meats and Fish Co. v. Cincinnati Insurance Company Department of Insurance, Chicago (2003) - cancellation upheld; cancellation hearing before the Department of Insurance affirmed insurer's decision and notice compliance for cancellation of commercial property insurance after extended fire loss claim was made and paid.
  • Took over defense of a national insurer in the middle of a multi-million dollar bad faith claim and brought it to satisfactory resolution at mediation.
  • Successfully defended in federal court a nationwide insurer for bad faith claim alleging a failure to defend a claim of invasion of privacy.
  • State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Board of Governors 50 Ill. Ct. Cl. 304 (1997) Granting summary judgment to insurer for reimbursement of costs and fees incurred in defending parties' insured against libel claim.

Publications

  • "Intentional Act Exclusion," chapter in Commercial and Professional Liability Insurance Practice Handbook, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education Handbook (2014) - Download Article
  • "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
  • "What Every Claims Professional Needs to Know About Conflicts of Interest, Good Faith Duty to Settle and Time Limit Demands," Heyl Royster (2007)
  • "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)
  • "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