Since 1986, companies headquartered in Bermuda and other “offshore” markets have sold catastrophic excess liability insurance coverage, on forms drafted specifically for these markets. These forms, which have undergone several revisions but which retain the same core concepts, differ dramatically from policies sold in the United States and elsewhere, with radically different triggers of coverage, notice provisions, conditions and exclusions. Over the past decade, these Bermuda insurance companies have proved immensely profitable, and have expanded their portfolios so that they now write all manner of coverages, including D&O, first-party, etc. From the very inception of these markets, Reed Smith IRG attorneys have assisted policyholders plumb these coverages and perfect their claims.
Client Counseling - Claims
Bermuda forms typically have extremely large policy limits, such as $25 million, $50 million or $100 million, sold above proportionally large retentions. Accordingly, these policies contain a number of provisions unique to the Bermuda market, governing how claims can be “batched” or “integrated” (i.e., governing how a number of smaller claims can be added together to reach the limits of the Bermuda policy). Reed Smith IRG attorneys have extensive experience assisting policyholders in framing their claims under these provisions. As important, we have experience assisting policyholders in coordinating the pursuit of insurance and commercial decisions stemming from a run of similar claims; for instance, whether to halt sale of a product generating claims activity, and how doing so will impact the insurance claim.
Frequently, policyholders elect to purchase insurance to cover their exposure in the retention underlying their Bermuda coverage, often in the domestic market. In pursuing coverage from these “underlying” carriers, extreme care must be taken to avoid prejudicing what often is the more important element: the Bermuda coverage.
Overwhelmingly, forms sold in Bermuda and other offshore markets require coverage disputes to be arbitrated in London or Bermuda. What is more, when a dispute involves multiple Bermuda policies, each will be the subject of a separate arbitration. These arbitrations have their own procedural rules, as well as customs foreign to most U.S. lawyers. Reed Smith IRG attorneys have handled dozens of these arbitrations, seated in London and elsewhere. We are well familiar with the entire arbitration process, from selecting arbitrators and chairs, to filing the Statement of Claim, through holding the main evidentiary hearing and securing the award. What is more, we are wholly conversant with custom and procedures unique to these arbitrations.
Client Counseling - Coverage
With our experience in arbitrating and settling disputes under Bermuda forms, Reed Smith attorneys are uniquely placed to assist you in securing the best possible coverage from offshore carriers. Knowing which language has proved troublesome in settlement negotiations or arbitrations, we can help you in attempting to secure the best possible fit between your exposures and your coverage.