A reinsurance contract is typically an agreement between a ceding insurer and a reinsurer, which affords no rights of third parties, including underlying insureds to access the reinsurance contract. Typically, an insured cannot bring a direct action against the reinsurer because there is no contractual privity. But sometimes, in some reinsurance relationships, the actions of the reinsurer, whether contractual or not, may open the door for a direct action.
In court, at the pleading stage, sometimes the reinsurer’s motion to dismiss a complaint is superseded by the insured’s motion to amend the complaint. That happened in late 2022 in a federal court in Arizona.
It is quite common to have a transaction where a company essentially takes over another company and reinsures its obligations 100%. Several years later, the acquiring reinsurer may sell the acquired ceding company as a “clean shell.” Of course, the new acquiring company that buys the shell wants the original 100% reinsurance agreement to remain in force. After 10 years or more, sometimes things go awry.
As the COVID-19 business interruption cases are decided, many are keeping score. So far, the tally is in favor of the insurance industry, with a number of cases being dismissed for lack of direct physical loss of or damage to covered property by a covered peril.
Most of the cases filed seeking coverage have been met with motions to dismiss by the insurance company. As many of you know, a motion dismiss seeks to throw the case out of court because, on its face, the complaint does not state a cause or action. Basically, the court is saying that the allegations of the complaint, even if true, cannot as a matter of law, lead to coverage. Some courts allow the policyholder to file an amended complaint and some do not. It depends on the specific facts and allegations.
But not all courts have granted the insurance companies’ motions to dismiss. In a recent case, a Missouri federal court denied the motion. In this blog post I examine why.