Brent Winans, Jessica Kirkwood-Alley, David Thompson, and Chip Merlin

David Thompson of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA) is a premier insurance agent educator who spends most of his time on the road teaching insurance agents how to ply their trade. This morning, I was on a panel moderated by Thompson, with insurance agent defense attorney Jessica Kirkwood-Alley and insurance expert Brent Winans. The topic was how insurance agents can avoid errors and omissions claims.
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Mike Duffy & Chip Merlin

An insurance agent has many responsibilities which to do correctly, requires a great amount of specific education and a lot of attention to detail. Insurance agents are important because they sell one of the most important financial products any of us can purchase. The entire purpose of the insurance product they sell protects us from financial calamity. Every now and then, a lack of attention to detail comes back to harm a customer.
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The Illinois Supreme Court recently overturned the Court of Appeals’ decision in American Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Krop, 82 N.E. 3d 533, 2017 IL App (1st) 161071 (Ill. App. 2017). As discussed in my post on June 14, 2017, the Illinois Appellate Court had concluded that the insured’s claim against their agent for negligent procurement of insurance did not arise until the insured knew or reasonable should have known of the injury, i.e., at the moment when the insurer denied coverage.
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If an insurance broker fails to obtain the insurance coverage requested or misrepresents the scope or extent of coverage, does an insured have a claim against the broker when the insurance they expected to cover their loss does not as a result of the broker’s negligence?
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Upon notice that an insurer will no longer insure a specific risk, insureds often call their broker or agent and request they obtain the insurance from another carrier with the same or similar coverages relative to the cancelled policy. Assuming the agent or broker did so, many insureds may not review or read their new policy. Unfortunately, many insureds find out for the first time after a loss that the policy they requested isn’t the same or similar to the coverage they previously had. As one appellate court in Illinois recently held, receipt of the policy or policy’s declarations pages showing the limits is enough to put the insured on notice of their limits.1
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7Q1A5915

The above photograph depicts the panel I was on at the Florida Association of Insurance Agents Convention last week. It was a wonderful presentation moderated by a fantastic insurance educator, David Thompson. The workshops, myriad insurance vendors, and networking opportunities opened my eyes about a truly important association which dedicates itself to promoting professionalism by those participating in the important business of selling insurance to policyholders.
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Often an insured goes to his insurance broker or agent hoping to find the same coverage at a better rate, but often does not find out that the same coverage was not procured until after there has been a loss or claim. Whether such a request will support a cause of action is a determination that is specific to each state, as is the question of when the statute of limitations on such a cause of action begins. The latter issue was recently addressed by the Illinois Court of Appeals in American Family Mutual Insurance Company v. Krop.1
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For my clients in the shipping industry, be sure to read your renewal policy to ensure that your shipments are covered; don’t assume that your agent or broker will notify you of policy changes, and be especially aware that they (the broker or agent) may not even have a duty to alert you to the changes, based on the law of the state you do business in.
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