No Coverage for Claims Made Outside of Claims-Made Policy Period

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, applying Illinois law, has granted a legal professional liability insurer’s motion for summary judgment, holding that its claims-made policy did not apply to various claims that were first made either before or after the policy period. Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Law Office of John S. Xydakis, P.C., 2023 WL 2572468 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 20, 2023).

The insured attorney bought a claims-made legal malpractice insurance policy that had a policy period of January 26, 2017, to January 26, 2018, and a retroactive date of January 26, 2016. The policy, which the insured did not renew, had a 60-day automatic extended reporting period. The policy gave the insured the right to purchase a longer extended reporting period, but the insured did not exercise the option.

Three claims were made against the attorney: (1) a lawsuit alleging failure to pay expert witness fees in 2012, (2) judicial sanctions levied in 2019 against the attorney and his client, and (3) a 2019 lawsuit by one of the law firm’s former employees alleging legal malpractice, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The attorney sought coverage for these claims. The insurer denied coverage because the suits were made outside the policy period and/or involved acts before the retroactive date. 

The court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment. The court declared that the insurer owed no coverage because the first lawsuit involved acts occurring prior to the retroactive date, and because the 2019 sanctions and lawsuit occurred after the policy period and automatic extended reporting period expired.

The insured raised a peripheral issue, arguing that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the insurer was estopped from denying coverage. The attorney argued that, by regulation, the insurer should have offered at least a 12-month extended reporting period and that the insurer failed to notify him that the policy would be non-renewed. The court rejected both arguments, noting that the policy offered the insured the right to purchase a longer extended reporting period and that the insurer provided a nonrenewal notice to the insured’s broker. The court also rejected the argument on a legal basis, observing that “estoppel may not be used to create or extend coverage where none exists.”

Wiley Executive Summary

Sign up for updates

Necessary Cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytical Cookies

Analytical cookies help us improve our website by collecting and reporting information on its usage. We access and process information from these cookies at an aggregate level.