Ward, Hocker & Thornton (WHT) represents regional and national insurance carriers. Our clients retain WHT to handle matters at the Department of Insurance, to assist in determining whether a person or company is entitled to coverage under a personal or commercial policy, and to defend bad faith claims. WHT also handles other matters for its insurance clients and presents seminars on any topic requested.
WHT attorneys are experienced with compliance matters at the Department of Insurance, the regulations that govern insurance carriers, and the Attorney General opinions discussing the same. Most carriers have in-house corporate counsel to investigate and address these issues but, on certain specific applications of Kentucky law, WHT stands ready to assist and is often called upon to provide a local perspective.
WHT is regularly asked to review an insurance contract and to provide a legal opinion as to the scope of the coverage that it affords. Typically, the insurance agreement is a collection of uniform provisions approved nationally and filed with the state's Department of Insurance. However, varying theories of liability and changes in the way Court's interpret the insurance provisions often lead to ambiguity in coverage or it leads to situations where a single lawsuit contains both covered and excluded claims. WHT identifies those situations and works with clients to develop a plan for proceeding. That can either entail filing a Declaratory Judgment Action in State or Federal Court which requests the Judge to issue an Order on coverage, entering an existing lawsuit to take discovery on factual issues which will tend to lead to coverage or an exclusion, or acting as a mediator to help resolve claims in light of the ambiguity in coverage.
WHT attorneys are also asked to defend insurance carriers in bad faith claims. These suits are filed at the same time of an existing lawsuit or directly against the carrier in a separate action. They are filed by first-parties and third-parties who typically allege some violation of Kentucky's Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act. WHT is familiar with all aspects of the act and the ever-changing case law interpreting the same. With that knowledge, WHT works with its clients to document the client's general claims handling philosophy as well as how this particular claim was handled. Depending on the allegations, WHT attorneys then work with the client and opposing counsel to isolate the area of criticism. In fact, the criticism is often a misunderstanding of the claims handling process and WHT's insurance experience gives it the ability to recognize the disconnect and to assist in resolving the matter.
If you have an Insurance question or case and would like to discuss one or more of the aspects of the matter, please feel free to contact us.