A multidisciplinary team equipped to handle an array of matters for the insurance industry.
Insurers are in the business of risk, but in an increasingly uncertain economic environment, risk management requires adapting to constant change and evolving industry disruption. Manatt’s broad-based insurance practice covers a wide range of issues faced by the industry, including complex disputes and arbitrations, regulatory guidance and advocacy, advice and counseling on transactions, product development, and governance.
We have decades of experience representing the insurance industry. A number of our litigation, corporate and regulatory attorneys have held senior in-house positions at global stock and mutual insurers, and the team appreciates the importance of aligning our work with the strategic and tactical objectives of your organization. Our team includes members of Manatt’s litigation, corporate, health, government and regulatory, and privacy and data security practices.
Our deep understanding of the industry enables us to advise on risk mitigation before disputes arise—and to effectively and efficiently resolve disputes if they occur. Our team handles a wide range of insurance disputes, including complex litigation and regulatory investigations.
As an example of our insurance industry depth, through Manatt Health we have a deep bench of knowledge leaders in both federal and state insurance regulation, including former regulators and insurance executives, who can advise health plan and health insurer clients across a full range of products. Manatt also has the premier health insurance litigation practice in California, having represented most of the state’s largest health insurers and managed care plans in their largest and most significant matters. In addition to trying groundbreaking cases in the field, Manatt’s healthcare insurance litigators have impacted the development of the law, having been responsible for more California and Ninth Circuit published appellate decisions in the health insurance field than any other law firm in the nation.
Who we work with
Our team works with all types of insurance industry participants, including life, annuity, and disability, property and casualty, health, long-term care, and reinsurance lines.
What we do
- Complex litigation and class actions, including reinsurance disputes
- Regulatory and enforcement actions
- Privacy and data security counseling, incident response, and litigation
- Government relations, legislative and regulatory advocacy
Our attorneys have experience in a broad array of matters and in various jurisdictions, including the following representative matters:
Life, annuity and disability
- Defended life insurance companies in numerous federal court actions regarding administrative changes to policy costs and allegations that the insurers breached contracts by assessing increased cost of insurance charges allegedly not permitted by the policies.
- Defended a life insurance company in a trial in California federal court involving claims for breach of contract and fraud. The alleged fraud arose out of a scheme by some of the insurance company’s producing agents to sell policies to friends and family for purposes of collecting sales commissions, and then to immediately cancel the policies to avoid substantial premium payments.
- Defended a life insurance company at trial in Mississippi state court in a suit brought by an agent alleging fraud and other deceptive practices in the company’s disclosure around its surplus.
- Defended a life insurance company in connection with claims in North Carolina state court and threatened claims brought by policyholders concerning bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) concerning portfolio losses underlying policies.
- Defended a life insurance company in a class action in Georgia federal court regarding the sale of variable annuities within qualified retirement plans. The action involved claims that the insurer failed to disclose that the tax deferral feature of variable annuities was allegedly unnecessary in qualified plans.
- Defended a life insurance company in a putative class action in New Jersey state court regarding the sale and use of insurance policies within defined benefit plans. The action involved claims that certain features of the plans allegedly rendered them illegitimate under Section 412(i) of the Internal Revenue Code.
- Defended a life insurance company in numerous nationwide class action claims relating to allegedly deceptive sales practices by the company and its agents’ use of vanishing premium illustrations.
- Defended a life insurance company in a putative class action challenging the company’s retention of surplus profits and its alleged failure to comply with Massachusetts law concerning the distribution of dividends to policyowners, with alleged damages well into the billions of dollars.
- Defended a mutual life insurance company in a putative class action concerning members’ voting rights to elect the company’s board of directors, which presented matters of first impression under Massachusetts law and upheld the company’s 160-year-old practice.
- Defended a life insurance company and general agency in an ERISA lawsuit, alleging that the insurance company, the general agency and its agents incorrectly structured a retirement plan for a small business and its owners.
Property and casualty
- Defended a property and casualty insurance company in a post-closing dispute following a reinsurance transaction involving substantially all of the life and annuity business of the company’s affiliate.
- Defended a property and casualty insurance company in a putative class action in New Jersey state court and a qui tam action in New Jersey federal court regarding the Medicare Secondary Payer Act. The actions involved allegations that the company caused customers to purchase “health first” automobile insurance policies even though Medicare and Medicaid recipients are not eligible to use those programs for their primary medical coverage.
- Defended property and casualty carriers in major groundwater contamination claims arising from releases of TCE, TCA and PCE, and claims arising from lead mining operations.
- Defended the primary property and casualty carrier in a coverage dispute with a medical product manufacturer over the worldwide settlement of class claims arising out of defective mechanical heart valves.
- Represented various property and casualty carriers in coverage disputes arising out of asbestos claims and in negotiation of long-tail coverage settlements among carriers on the risks.
- Defended insurers in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles child molestation cases, and defended an insurance company in the Los Angeles Unified School District child molestation cases.
- Defended an insurer/reinsurer in both state and federal bankruptcy court in connection with asbestos claims totaling over $400 million in exposure.
- Defended the lead primary insurer in a seminal environmental insurance coverage case which involved a 14-month trial and in which the plaintiff sought damages in excess of $2 billion for the clean-up of extensive contamination in Colorado. Our attorney obtained a full defense verdict.
- Represented the primary insurer in an environmental insurance coverage action that settled favorably prior to trial.
- Represented a property and casualty insurance company in an ARIAS arbitration with a reinsurance company. The case involved a dispute over a $25 million policy and a loss from property damage in Texas.
- Represented a U.S. insurance holding company and its Bermuda-based affiliate in handling multiple issues arising from the affiliate’s sales and marketing of, and reserves related to, insurance-linked investment funds in connection with global catastrophe reinsurance coverage, including in federal court actions for breach of contract and fiduciary duties by the affiliate’s former executives.
- Represented a reinsurer in an action in Florida state court involving claims for breach of contract and fraud relating to a managing general agency agreement and surplus note. The alleged fraud arose out of a scheme by the officers and directors of a Florida property and casualty insurance company to avoid repayment obligations on a surplus note, to divert business from the managing general agent owned by the reinsurer to a different entity, and to misrepresent the financial health of the insurance company in financial statements filed with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
- Represented a Bermuda-based reinsurance company and affiliates in an action in New York state court for breach of contract and fraud relating to a “parametric” insurance product. The product was a swap contract which triggered payment depending on certain meteorological conditions.
- Represented major health insurers and health plans in numerous bad faith and wrongful death actions at the trial and appellate levels, including making new published law in various areas including rescission, post-claims underwriting, and the liability of managed care plans for conduct by affiliated medical groups and professionals.
- Represented health insurers and health plans in numerous state and federal class actions involving disputes filed by insureds, including class actions related to various contractual provisions, premiums, covered services, experimental therapies, mental health parity and emergency services, to list just a few of the many matters we have handled at the trial and appellate levels.
- Played a central role in the development of the law governing health insurance policy rescission, representing both private plans and the industry as a whole. In one seminal rescission case, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a grant of summary judgment to our client, a large health insurer, in a unanimous, published opinion; and in another highly watched case, we successfully tried to a jury the first healthcare rescissions case involving post-claims underwriting.
- Represented an insurance industry association in challenging a series of underwriting and rescission regulations promulgated by the California Department of Insurance (CDI). The trial court agreed with the arguments we had developed and directed the CDI to withdraw the regulations.
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Investigations and Enforcement
- On behalf of a life insurance company, resolved a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement matter and other regulatory state inquiries—informed by allegations of a purported Dodd-Frank Act whistleblower—related to the disclosure and administration of “guaranteed minimum income benefit” riders to variable annuities.
- Represented financial service companies (including life insurance companies and broker-dealers) in response to regulatory inquiries, including by the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and state regulatory authorities (including the Massachusetts Division of Securities, the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, the Massachusetts Attorney General and the New York State Department of Financial Services), involving alleged sales practice violations as well as product design and disclosure matters.
- Defended a life insurance and annuity company in response to an attorney general civil investigative demand over unclaimed property and use of the Social Security Administration death master file. The attorney general was investigating whether insurance companies used the death master file to stop payments on annuities but not to issue life insurance proceeds, and whether the companies’ actions complied with the state unclaimed property statute.
- Counseled on hundreds of investigations concerning allegations of, for example, sales practice violations, alleged fraud and misrepresentations, data theft and misuse, negligence, and malfeasance.
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Privacy and Data Security
- Assisted a quasi-governmental agency that provides workers’ compensation insurance to businesses in responding to a significant data breach involving medical and other personally identifiable information. Working closely with the client’s CEO, board of directors, general counsel and chief privacy officer, we coordinated risk assessment and litigation avoidance—including notice, public relations and lobbying—and handled insurance coverage issues.
- Advised a range of clients, including in the insurance industry, on how to protect their interests in the deliberations over the 2018 adoption of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the most comprehensive privacy legislation in the nation, and on the amendment of the CCPA during the 2019 state legislative session.
- Represented a third-party claims administrator in connection with the investigation and remediation of a data security incident impacting its customers and customer information.
- Counseled a global insurance group on data privacy and data security overhaul and maturity, including risk mitigation with respect to security incident investigations and risks involving the CCPA, the General Data Protection Regulation and other international data privacy laws.
- Counseled a domestic insurance company on the overhaul of its security program and controls, including incident response processes.
- Counseled life insurance clients on dozens of purported customer data theft and misuse matters.
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Government Relations and Regulatory Advocacy
- Represented an insurer of last resort for fire insurance, providing strategic advice on California’s insurance regulatory, policy, business and political climate. Our work also included regulatory and legislative advocacy before the California State Legislature, the Governor’s Office and the Department of Insurance.
- Represented the second largest auto insurer in the U.S., providing strategic advice on California’s insurance regulatory, policy, business and political climate. Our work also included regulatory and legislative advocacy before the California State Legislature, the Governor’s Office and the Department of Insurance.
- Advised a telematics auto insurance company based in Ohio on regulatory advocacy to legalize its mobile app in California.
- Assisted one of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S. with regulatory and legislative advocacy services in California, including before the California Department of Insurance, the elected Insurance Commissioner, the Governor and the California State Legislature.
- Assisted one of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S. in multiple states and in Washington, D.C., on state and federal taxation issues, commodities hedging, Social Security death roll notification and similar issues.
- Represented a large property and casualty insurer for two decades on a wide range of federal regulatory issues, including a number of federal automobile safety requirements.
- Assisted a major life insurer and subsequently a property and casualty insurer in various matters, including their successful applications for licenses to do business in China. Additionally, assisted the life insurer in protecting its interests during the consideration and implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
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