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Richard Robinson represents policyholders seeking coverage under a variety of insurance policies, including primary and excess general liability policies and professional liability policies.  He has assisted clients in pursuing claims related to malpractice, nationwide class actions and intellectual property disputes.  Mr. Robinson’s clients include technology companies, law firms, mass transit corporations and government agencies.

 

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One of the most heavily-litigated exclusions in modern insurance coverage practice was the subject of a recent district court decision involving allegedly misleading marketing by for-profit colleges. Exclusions for claims or occurrences arising out of acts done in connection with the “rendering of, or actual or alleged failure to render, any professional services for others” – the so-called professional services exclusion – is the source of endless disputes between insurers and insureds. There are a number of reasons for this; the exclusion is somewhat vague and has been interpreted in varying ways across and even within different jurisdictions.

What has made the exclusion so troubling for policyholders is the fact that its scope and reach has been expanded so far beyond its initial underwriting purposes. The exclusion commonly appears in Commercial General Liability and D&O policies, and its intent is to exclude underlying claims that should be covered by Errors & Omissions policies. A CGL policy is not intended to cover claims for an attorney’s malpractice during litigation or an architect’s negligence in designing a building, and the professional services exclusion is included in those policies to make that clear. Continue Reading District Court Further Limits Application of Professional Services Exclusion

As Bay Area residents prepared for thousands of football fans and media to descend on their region for the Super Bowl, one began to hear the sorts of rumblings that typically precede big events. Traffic will be terrible. Parking will be worse. Good luck getting a table at a restaurant. Oh, and good luck finding a place a sleep if you’re from out of town.

Former Mayor Willie Brown had advice for the naysayers: Rent your house on Airbnb! “Everyone is going to make a killing, including the private citizens who are smart enough to schedule a vacation paid for by Airbnb’ing their homes.” Continue Reading Insure Your Risk as an Airbnb Host

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As Bay Area residents prepared for thousands of football fans and media to descend on their region for the Super Bowl, one began to hear the sorts of rumblings that typically precede big events. Traffic will be terrible. Parking will be worse. Good luck getting a table at a restaurant. Oh, and good luck finding a place a sleep if you’re from out of town.

Former Mayor Willie Brown had advice for the naysayers: Rent your house on Airbnb! “Everyone is going to make a killing, including the private citizens who are smart enough to schedule a vacation paid for by Airbnb’ing their homes.”

Continue Reading Insure Your Risk as an Airbnb Host

Regular readers of the SFGate website saw two familiar headlines on September 10, 2015. The first – “Northern California wildfire explodes in size” (last accessed September 28, 2015) – would not have been unusual on any summer day in California, particularly in the last four years as an historic drought has ravaged the Western United States. Wildfires, always a feature of the dry season in the West, have increased in size and intensity as the yearly average precipitation levels continue to fall.

The second – “El Niño Odds Rise Again, Tracking to Be a Blockbuster” – was more unusual, and almost certainly more welcome to local readers. The El Niño weather phenomenon, which refers to a band of abnormally warm water in the central equatorial Pacific, is generally associated with large storms in the United States, and the West Coast in particular. News of the impending 2015-2016 El Niño has raised hopes that heavy rains will replenish water supplies that have been devastated by four-plus years of meager rainfall. But this year’s El Niño may have more damaging effects, especially in areas impacted by fire. Continue Reading High Fire Season Followed by El Niño Sets California Policyholders On Collision Course With Property Insurers

If an insurer promises to advance “claim expenses” (including attorneys fees) arising from covered claims, does California’s broad duty to defend principles apply, such that the insured need only show the potential for coverage or must the insured show that the expenses were actually incurred defending a covered claim?  Many policyholder-side attorneys may have assumed that – at least in the Ninth Circuit – the law is clear: the same principles typically apply to both “duty to pay” and “duty to defend” policies.  A court in the central district, however, recently refused to apply the broader duty to defend “potentiality” test to a duty to pay policy.  As a result, policyholders need to be ready to explain why this holding should not apply to their particular case.   

Continue Reading When Do “Duty to Defend” Principles Apply to a “Duty to Pay” Policy?

When the liability of its insured is clear, must an insurer proactively attempt to settle a claim within policy limits in order to avoid bad faith liability?  Or is it sufficient to wait until a reasonable settlement offer is made?  A court of appeals panel in the Ninth Circuit recently weighed in on the issue, holding that when liability is clear, an insurer has a duty to attempt to reach a settlement, even absent a demand from the claimant. 

Continue Reading Insurers Can’t Wait Around for Settlement Offer If Liability Is Clear (the Ninth Circuit Addresses Bad Faith, part 1)