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Washington Federal District Court Rejects Technical Claims Handling Violations as Basis for Extra-Contractual Claims Against Liability Insurer

Washington's claims handling regulations include short deadlines for responding to an insured's tender of a claim for defense and indemnity: 10 working days to acknowledge a tender (WAC 284-30-360(1)), and 30 days to complete its investigation of a claim unless the investigation cannot reasonably be completed within that time (WAC 284-30-370). When insurers fail to meet these deadlines, Washington insureds often assert claims for violation of Washington's Insurance Fair Conduct and Consumer Protection Acts as well as for bad faith and/or negligence. 

But should insurers face such claims where their only alleged wrongdoing is a short delay in responding to an insured? United District Court Judge Robert Bryan recently addressed this issue in Cardenas v. Navigators Insurance Co., (December 16, 2011), a case in which the liability insurer had agreed to defend its insured against a claim, had paid all pre- and post-tender defense costs, but had not accepted the defense within 30 days of tender. Granting the insurer's motion for summary judgment, Judge Bryan ruled that "[v]iolations . . . of the 10 and 30 day time periods for acknowledging a claim and completing an investigation are simple technical violations and standing alone, do not evidence any unreasonable conduct on the part of [an insurer] in promptly responding to the tender."

© 2002-2022 by Williams Kastner ALL RIGHTS RESERVEDNational Law Review, Volume II, Number 11
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About this Author

Darren A. Feider Attorney Williams Kastner Law Firm
Member

Darren Feider is a Member in the Seattle office. His practice involves general employment litigation of wrongful discharge and discrimination claims, the drafting of employment and consulting contracts, non-compete agreements and severance packages for both employees and employers, and conducting investigations for private and public employers in response to EEOC and Washington State Human Rights Commission complaints. He has represented employers in unpaid wage actions. He also handles general commercial litigation.  

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206-233-2906
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