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PDFWAC 284-30-920

Procedures for resolving lost policy disputes regarding environmental claims.

The commissioner has found and hereby defines it to be an unfair act or practice or an unfair method of competition for an insurer to fail to investigate thoroughly and promptly all claims of lost policies. It is also an unfair practice or an unfair method of competition for an insurer to fail to provide all facts known or discovered during an investigation concerning the issuance and terms of a policy, including copies of documents establishing such facts, to an insured claiming coverage under a lost policy. A single violation of this section may be deemed by the commissioner to be an unfair act or practice or an unfair method of competition. The following procedures are minimum standards for the facilitation of reconstructing a lost policy and determining its terms. These procedures do not create a presumption of coverage for the loss once the contract is reconstructed.
(1) Within fifteen working days after receipt by the insurer of notice of a lost policy, an insurer shall commence an investigation into its records, including its computer records, to determine whether it issued the lost policy. If the insurer determines that it issued the policy in question, it shall promptly commence an investigation into the terms and conditions relevant to the environmental claim.
(a) For purposes of this section, "notice of a lost policy" means written notice of the lost policy in sufficient detail to identify the person or entity seeking coverage, including information concerning the name of the alleged policyholder, if known, together with material facts known to the insured concerning the lost policy.
(b) Insureds and insurers shall fully cooperate with each other in the investigation of lost policy issues.
(i) Each shall provide to the other facts known or discovered during an investigation, including the identity of any witnesses with knowledge of facts related to the issuance or existence of a lost policy.
(ii) Each shall provide the other with copies of documents establishing facts related to the lost policy.
(iii) Neither an insured nor an insurer shall be required to produce material subject to the attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine, or confidential claims documents provided to the insurer by another policyholder.
(2) If the insurer discovers information tending to show the issuance of a policy applicable to the claim, the following procedures shall apply:
(a) If the insurer is able to determine the terms of the policy, upon request the insurer shall provide to an insured an accurate copy or reconstruction of the policy or the portions of the policy located.
(b) If after diligent investigation the insurer is not able to locate all or part of the policy or to determine the terms, conditions, or exclusions of the policy, the insurer shall provide copies of all insurance policy forms potentially applicable to the environmental claim issued by the insurer during the applicable policy period. The insurer shall state which of the potentially applicable forms, if any, is most likely to have been issued and why, or alternatively, shall state why it is unable to identify the forms after a good faith search. Providing copies of forms and meeting the standards of this section, is neither an admission by an insurer that a policy was issued or effective, nor, if a policy were issued, that it was necessarily in the form produced, unless the insurer so states.
(c) If it is concluded that a general liability insurance policy more likely than not was issued to the insured by the insurer, and neither the insured nor the insurer can produce any evidence which may tend to show the policy limits applicable to the policy, it shall be assumed, in the absence of other evidence, that the minimum limits of coverage offered by the insurer during the period in question were purchased by the insured.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 48.02.060, 48.30.010, 48.01.030, 48.05.280, 48.15.100 and 48.15.170. WSR 95-09-014 (Order R 94-30), ยง 284-30-920, filed 4/10/95, effective 5/11/95.]
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