Insurance Coverage

Mr. Olmstead handles a wide variety of insurance coverage disputes, including Commercial General Liability (CGL) policies (including catastrophic losses such as fires and environmental remediation), homeowner’s insurance, professional liability insurance, business interruption and key man insurance, health insurance, and life insurance issues. 

First party claims for policy benefits

Unfortunately, some insurance companies fail to honor their policies. When that happens, Mr. Olmstead will pursue litigation to obtain the benefits under the policies. Recently, Mr. Olmstead has represented businesses that suffered catastrophic fire losses. He has litigated these breach of contract and bad faith cases in the Indiana federal and state courts.

Mr. Olmstead has also represented both insureds and insurance companies in disputes concerning coverage for environmental cleanup.  Mr. Olmstead has been involved in numerous appeals regarding CGL insurance coverage for environmental remediation.

Claims for coverage including third party claims

Mr. Olmstead is particularly knowledgeable about protecting an insured’s right to coverage.  Mr. Olmstead has represented numerous insurers in declaratory judgment lawsuits involving exclusions and conditions precedent to coverage (such as notice provisions and cooperation clauses).  Mr. Olmstead has also defended bad faith claims.  These coverage actions, bad faith claims, and Mr. Olmstead’s work with numerous insurance adjusters provide him with unique insight when negotiating with insurers to provide defense and indemnity for their policy-holders.   

For example, Mr. Olmstead represented a contractor who remodeled a home.  After the work was completed, the homeowner sued the contractor because the basement began flooding.  The insurer initially denied the claim arguing that the insurance did not provide coverage for defective workmanship.  After the initial denial of the claim, Mr. Olmstead was hired by the contractor/insured.  Mr. Olmstead first convinced the insurer that coverage should be provided under the policy (because the claim related to damage which resulted from the allegedly defective workmanship and thus was an “occurrence” under the terms of the policy).  Not only did the insurer agree to provide coverage, it also hired Mr. Olmstead to defend the insured after Olmstead shared his evaluation of and strategy for handling the claim.  Mr. Olmstead was able to quickly negotiate a favorable pre-suit settlement of the claim with the property owner.  This allowed the policy holder to concentrate on his business of remodeling homes. 

In a similar example, a local business was facing a high value personal injury and wrongful death claim.  The commercial general liability insurer initially denied the claim.  The business then hired Mr. Olmstead to assist with obtaining insurance coverage.  Mr. Olmstead filed an amended claim which convinced the insurer to defend the lawsuit.  Mr. Olmstead also shared his evaluation of and strategy for handling the claim.  He was then hired by the insurer to defend the insured in the matter.  Mr. Olmstead quickly negotiated a favorable settlement with the plaintiffs.    

Yet another example involved a lawyer’s office that was flooded by an upstairs neighbor.  The lawyer spent hundreds of hours salvaging his work product and furniture.  The lawyer’s practice was impacted for months during the remodeling.  The lawyer initially filed a claim for $138,000 from his business interruption insurance.  The insurer paid him only $90,000.  The lawyer then hired Olmstead to assist with the claim.  Olmstead worked with a forensic accountant to evaluate the insurer’s methodology and filed an amended claim.  Olmstead’s efforts convinced the insurer to pay an additional $186,000, over and above the $90,000 payment.  This even included the insurer paying $10,000 of Mr. Olmstead’s attorney fees, pursuant to an ambiguous attorney fees provision.    

Representative cases 

State Auto. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Flexdar, Inc., 964 N.E.2d 845 (Ind. 2012), reh’g denied (holding that pollution exclusion in general commercial liability policy was ambiguous and would be construed against insurer to provide coverage for insured for costs of cleanup). 

Medical Assurance Co., Inc. v. Miller, 779 F.Supp.2d 902 (S.D. Ind. 2011) (granting summary judgment to medical malpractice insurer and finding that insured’s breach of cooperation clause relieved insurer of duty to defend or indemnify physician in underlying medical malpractice suit).

National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA v. Standard Fusee Corp., 940 N.E.2d 810 (Ind. 2010), reh’g denied (uniform-contract-interpretation approach, not site-specific approach, applied to determine choice of law issue, reversing trial court and finding that Maryland law applied to insurance coverage dispute which precluded coverage for defense of underlying proceedings arising from alleged perchlorate contamination at insured’s sites in Indiana and California). 

Medical Assurance v. Hellman, et al., 610 F.3d 371 (7th Cir. 2010) (vacating stay of declaratory judgment action concerning breach of cooperation clause by insured physician).

Tri-Etch, Inc. v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 909 N.E.2d 997 (Ind. 2009), reh’g denied (contractor’s failure to call liquor store after closing was not an “occurrence” under the commercial general liability and umbrella policies, umbrella policy’s “alarm services” exclusion was unambiguous and barred coverage, and insurer’s denial of coverage on other grounds did not rebut the presumption that insurer was also prejudiced by the insured’s untimely notice of the claim).