When Claims-Made Primary and Occurrence Excess Policies Clash

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Decades ago, professional liability policies, like most liability policies, were written on an occurrence basis. If a claim was incurred during the insurance policy period, the policy would respond to the claim regardless of when the claim was made against the defendant and noticed to the insurance company. As we know from environmental and asbestos claims, that can take decades.

Then along came claims-made polices. Under a typical claims-made policy, if a claim is made against the defendant and reported to the insurance company during the policy period, that insurance policy will respond to the claim regardless of when the occurrence took place (as long as the claim occurred after the policy’s retroactive date). If the claim was made after the policy period and , that policy would

In New York, legislative and regulatory efforts to keep medical professionals practicing in New York led to a quirky medical malpractice insurance system where most primary medical malpractice policies were claims-made policies, but New York medical professionals were provided with excess policies written on an occurrence basis.

This leads to a recent case that explored the issues that arise when occurrence-based excess policies sit on top of claims-made primary policies.

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