March 21, 2019

#5 Forge a consensus early on regarding strategy, defense, etc.

Get everyone on the same page regarding key aspects of defending the product liability claim — the insurance claims rep, defense counsel and especially the policyholder.

Consensus

 

  • Are you determined to take the case all the way through trial?
  • Are you open to settling if you can get a Release?
  • Are there damaging documents don’t want to produce?
  • Is there a codefendant present that is a key customer or business partner that you would like to handle with kid gloves, even if it makes sense to play hardball or point the finger at them?

Revisit these issues.

Reconfirm periodically that you and the policyholder are in accord.

In product liability litigation, memories are often short. Some members of the defense triumvirate can become fickle. Nail down consensus and revisit this from time to time during the life of the claim.

Investing this time is useful if you get close to trial and get an 11th-hour demand from the policyholder to pay policy limits …”or else.” (HAMMER TIME!!)

Or, maybe you as the claims representative want to settle but the insured says DON’T DO IT due to its potential negative business impact.

Or, perhaps you and the insured are prepared for trial, and the excess carrier starts arm-twisting for you to cough up your full policy limits so it won’t be exposed.

It helps if you can speak with one voice with the policyholder. Lock this down early and reconfirm throughout the claim’s life. There is no way to guarantee or totally prevent nasty surprises in handling product liability claims. However, you may lower the odds of nasty surprises if you forge a consensus on key points at the outset of the case and reaffirm those with the insured at various stages throughout the life of the claim.

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